Axel Ockenfels

Axel Ockenfels ( born February 9, 1969 in Reydt ) is a German economist.


Ockenfels studied from 1989 to 1994 economics at the Rheinische Friedrich- Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. His thesis was on the Nobel laureate Reinhard Selten, Thesis 1997, he received the Heinz Sauermann price. In 1998 he received his doctorate at the Otto-von -Guericke- University of Magdeburg; his doctoral thesis was awarded as the best dissertation of the year 1998/1999 with the price of the Economic Science Association. As a result, he received a number of other awards. 2001 to 2007 he was Emmy Noether Fellow of the German Research Foundation. He habilitated at the University of Magdeburg in economics periods abroad as a DAAD scholarship at Penn State University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in 2002.

Until 2003 he worked as a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Research into Economic Systems in Jena, in July 2003 he was appointed professor at the University of Cologne as the successor to Carl Christian von Weizsäcker Professor of Political Economy. From 2003 to 2007 Ockenfels was director of the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne. From 2003 to 2006 he was chairman of the Society for Experimental Economics. Since 2004, he is the founding director of the Cologne Laboratory for Economic Research. Since 2010, Ockenfels member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and he's since 2011 Speaker of the DFG research group " Design and Behavior - Economic Engineering of Firms and Markets ".


Ockenfels was known for his research in the field of game theory and experimental economics in the economy.

Ockenfels is regarded as one of the leading German representative of a modern, empirically oriented economics. In an essay on the self-understanding of modern economics Ockenfels wrote in April 2007: " The tray is moved closer to the people and their problems, and it is increasingly unable which denounced gap between science and" to bridge real life " data instead of dogmas on these. denominator could bring the leitmotif of modern economics. "

Axel Ockenfels researches are focused on the areas behavioral theory and market architecture. He developed on the basis of game theory and experimental methods descriptively relevant economic decision behavior models that reflect the cognitive and motivational constraints into account. The findings make contributions to both basic research as well as for optimization of real markets. His work on market design, among others, had influence on the form of energy and telecommunications markets, from eBay's auction rules and evaluation system for the optimization between - and intra-company incentive systems and strategy development in negotiations and auctions.

Ockenfels is a representative of in the economics increasingly penetrating thesis that the behavior of real people can be represented adequately by the standards of theoretical economics model homo economicus.

Honors and Awards

On 2 March 2005 Ockenfels was awarded as the first economist for 17 years of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation for his research on the nature of economic motivation and interaction, and for his research on the optimal design of auction markets and other economic and social institutions. In the same year he was chosen by the weekly magazine Business Week as the best young German economist.

  • 2007: Philip Morris Research Award
  • 2006: Gossen Prize of the Association for Social Policy


Since 2005 he is a member of the North Rhine- Westphalian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and since 2006 a member of the Berlin- Brandenburg Academy of Sciences.

Writings (selection )

  • Behavioral economic engineering. In: Journal of Economic Psychology, Volume 33 ( 3), ( 6/2012 ), page 665-676 ( with Gary E. Bolton).
  • Engineering Trust - Reciprocity in the Production of Reputation Information. In: Management Science, Volume 59, page 265-285 ( with Gary E. Bolton and Ben Greiner ).
  • ERC - A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity and Competition. In: American Economic Review, Volume 90, ( 1/2000), page 166-193 ( with Gary E Bolton).
  • Fairness, reciprocity and self-interest - Economic theory and experimental evidence. Dissertation, Tübingen 1999 ISBN 3-16-147205-5.
  • How Effective are Electronic Reputation Mechanisms? An Experimental Investigation. In: Management Science, Volume 50 (11) (2004 ), page 1587-1602 ( with Gary E. Bolton and Elena Katok ).
  • Last-Minute Bidding and the Rules for Ending Second -Price Auctions: Evidence from eBay and Amazon Auctions on the Internet. In: American Economic Review, Volume 92 (4/2002), page 1093-1103 ( with Alvin E. Roth).
  • Managers and Students as news vendors. In: Management Science, Volume 58 (12) (2012 ), page 2225-2233 ( with Gary E. Bolton and Ulrich Thonemann ).
  • Similarity Increases altruistic punishment in humans. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS ), forthcoming ( with Thomas Mussweiler ).
  • The Method of Agencies Coalition Formation in Experimental Games. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS ), volume 109/50, (2012 ), pages 20358-20363 ( with John F. Nash, Rosemarie Nagel and Reinhard Selten ).

Pictures of Axel Ockenfels