Seitlicher Blick auf das gesamte D4 Gebäude.

Current Projects

Lobbying European Green Deal

Projectduration: October 2021 - May 2022

The aim of the study is to investigate which actors are particularly active at EU level in the context of the European Green Deal project and attempt to assert their interests by lobbying the EU decision-makers (in particular the European Commission and the Members of the European Parliament).

The following general questions will be addressed:

  • What lobbying activities (in particular: lobby meetings with EU decision-makers) can be identified in the area of the European Green Deal?

  • Which organisations/companies intervene most intensively/frequently/with the greatest use of resources vis-à-vis the EU Commission and the EU Parliament in the context of the Green Deal?

  • Which EU decision-makers are most often in contact with the lobbyists?

  • In which direction do the main actors want to change selected legal proposals within the framework of the "fit for 55" package and which instruments or lobbying strategies do they use for this purpose?

  • What is the final impact of lobbying on legislation?

Contact: Hendrik Theine, PhD

Monitoring of price discrimination in personalized pricing in e-commerce through machine-based learning

Projectduration: October 1, 2019 - March 31, 2022

Dynamic pricing is a common practice in e-commerce. Different price claims are set depending on personal attributes of consumers – for companies this results in greater options to maximize profit. Gender-based price discrimination occurs when men and women encounter different prices for the same or very similar products and services, or when products and services are labelled as gender specific despite being the same or very similar. To analyse the prevalence and impact of online price discrimination, though, requires an intersectional approach, which focuses on how different forms of discriminations intersect and concern a person. The reason for this is that dynamic pricing for consumers is based on complex information about individuals and their price elasticity. This information is collected in real-time regarding specific products and services.  
Databased pricing techniques are in part permissible under the law – also, personalized pricing if e.g. for granted discounts. The legal restrictions relate to unfair competition and the non-discrimination principle. The results of the recent survey of the Austrian e-commerce quality mark among online distributors shows that already 84% indicate to use dynamic and technically controlled pricing mechanisms. From the perspective of consumers there is a demand for transparency on prices. Personalized pricing is legally inadmissible as soon as this form of pricing discriminates e.g. by device, location, browsing and shopping patterns and gender.  
The ongoing challenge is to discover and deliver scientific evidence for personalised pricing in the Austrian e-commerce sector and to analyse possible discriminatory practices in this domain. Companies act as a black-box and it remains unclear which techniques are used to constitute prices and which person-based parameters this concerns. PRIMMING aims to find evidence by developing a framework, in which personas, their behaviour and scenarios are modelled. These are to be tested automatically in controlled measurements and the results are to be compared with a control group of real-time users. The objective is to empirically determine the forms and prevalence of dynamic pricing in Austria and to further inquire into discriminations occurring in this context such as related to gender.  
The results are the development of a tool to monitor static, dynamic and personalised pricing. Based on AI and Machine Learning this shall not constitute a mere observation but allow for predictions (predictive analytics). Consumers may use this tool for price comparisons, companies may use it to optimize pricing. The study which will be based on the analysed data will inform relevant stakeholders and further result in recommendations for consumers and guidelines for e-commerce providers.

Contact: ao.Univ.Prof. Dr. Andrea Grisold

Gendered Economic Relations in Evolution

Projectduration: October 1, 2019 - September 30,2022

“Gendered Economic Relations in Evolution” is a research project comprising five individual papers to be published in high-quality scientific journals. The overall idea of the project is to analyze how changes in legal and institutional frameworks have influenced the role of gender in the economy. The project thus studies how different dimensions of men and women’s economic roles have evolved in response to changing social norms, legal frameworks, and cultural practices. Each of the five papers in the project use the most modern econometric techniques applied to recently collected microdata to analyze their respective questions. The main hypothesis in each paper is, broadly speaking, that changes in a law or social/cultural institution contributed to forming new archetypes of what it means to be a man or a woman in today’s economy.

The geographical context of the papers is almost exclusively western countries (Austria, Canada, and the USA). However, one paper in the project takes a more global approach, asking if the employment outcomes of female workers are better when they work in globalized versus mainly domestic firms in over 100 different countries. The paper thus asks if globalization provides new opportunities for women at work. A second paper in the project studies whether same-sex couples in the United States changed how they divide their labor (that is, how the couple distributes paid work and unpaid household- and care-work) upon having received the right to marry, file their taxes jointly, or make claims for alimony payments upon the dissolution of the union. In other words, did these new rights change the way that the couples organized their economic lives? A third paper also studies the economics of sexual orientation, analyzing whether the pay gap faced by gay men and lesbians has changed over the last 15 years, a time in which public acceptance of these individuals has grown tremendously.

The fourth paper analyzes the extent to which women’s increasing levels of education has translated into access to more wealth and decision-making power in their households. Education is often considered to be a critical gateway to economic autonomy and prosperity, but to what extent has this been true inside individual households? Has women’s education changed the way that couples divide their resources and decision-making power? Finally, the last paper studies if a basic income grant implemented in Canada in the 1970s, in which participants were given a basic payment each month regardless of their outside income, affected couples’ fertility decisions. The main question here is whether access to more financial security via this basic income grant emboldened couples to get pregnant and have a child.

Contact: Ass.Prof. Alyssa Schneebaum, PhD


Transitioning buildings to full reliance on renewable energy and assuring inclusive and affordable housing.

Duration: April 1st, 2018 – March 31, 2020

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focus on policies to promote social, economic, and ecological sustainability. Within this framework, the New Urban Agenda, based on the 11th SDG, acknowledges access to housing as a basic service to be provided to all citizens (UN, 2016). Simultaneously, in line with the 7th SDG on affordable and clean energy, it underlines the importance of reducing air pollution and commits authorities in cities and municipalities to increase the share of renewable energy. Considering the role of buildings in Austria´s gross energy consumption (close to 30% - Statistic Austria 2016) efficiency, sufficiency and consistency measures, including comprehensive retrofitting campaigns, energy efficient (re-)construction and a shift to renewable heating systems are indispensable. Only this combination will allow reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement (and the 13th SDG). At the same time, the reduction of inequality according to the 10th SDG includes the promotion of "appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard" (UN, 2016), which adds an additional dimension to "transitioning buildings research" which thus has to aim for inclusive and affordable housing, too.

The project focuses on transitioning buildings to full reliance on renewable energy, while assuring inclusive and affordable housing. It combines (1) techno-economic modelling of decarbonisation scenarios with (2) an analysis of possible effects on real estate prices and aspects of social inclusion, and (3) transdisciplinary research on policy options to implement social innovations. The active engagement of stakeholders and municipalities will ensure the targeting of policy makers and academia. Thus, the key objective of this project is to develop and to analyse pathways towards full decarbonisation and assuring inclusive and affordable housing for the Austrian housing sector by effective policy interventions.

The project is being carried out under the direction of the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) in cooperation with the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Wien) and the Climate Alliance Austria (CAA).

Project report

Contact: Dr. Koen Smet; Daniel Grabner, MSc; Katharina Litschauer, MSc