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German Research Institute for Public Administration

Incentives in public law

The project investigates the role of incentives in public law. In contrast to more traditional regulatory approaches, incentives are designed to encourage and guide desirable behaviour without resorting to imperative means and sanctions.

First, the analysis focuses on incentives as a regulatory tool in administrative law. Despite their ubiquitous presence, jurisprudence and legal theory have hardly ever acknowledged the concept of incentives as a genuinely legal one. Instead, incentives are mostly perceived as an outgrowth of economic theory, and therefore taken as indications for an economisation of law. The project confronts this perception with a new, decidedly legal perspective, ultimately aimed at integrating the concept of incentives thoroughly into administrative law. To this end, it explores the diversity of incentives in order to identify patterns and rules. Effects of incentives as well as their preconditions and limitations are also being investigated. The emerging picture will shed a clearer light on the role of incentives in interpreting and applying administrative law.

Beside this administrative perspective, constitutional law will serve as a basis for analysing the concept of incentives against the background of its normative stipulations. Fundamental rights in the personal as well as economic spheres delimit the range in which legal incentives can be applied. Here, the project primarily addresses concerns arising from the non-imperative character of incentives and the limited predictability of their possible effects.

An additional objective of the project is to extract and compile insights about what constitutes “good” incentives in public law. For this purpose, the study explores contexts and framework conditions under which incentives have the most significant impact.

The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Principal Investigator

Prof. Dr. Joachim Wieland

Prof. Dr. Joachim Wieland

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Researcher

Dr. Johanna Wolff

Dr. Johanna Wolff

Website