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Two RSM researchers each awarded NWO Veni grant worth € 250,000

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded two of its Veni grants, worth up to € 250,000, to two researchers at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). Dr Thomas Lambert, an assistant professor of finance, and Dr Pieter van den Berg, an assistant professor of transportation and logistics have received the annual grants, which are awarded to highly promising young researchers up to three years after completion of a PhD. The grants provide an opportunity to continue to research for another three years. The two grants announced for RSM researchers were among 166 Veni grants awarded in the most recent round, announced on Tuesday, 16 July 2019.



Dr Thomas Lambert will research the effects of the political dynamics at play within central banks on financial stability. “I’m thrilled that NWO recognised the importance of these challenges and decided to fund my research on them. It’s a great honour to receive this award,” he said. “More fundamentally, my NWO Veni grant will allow me to sustain and strengthen my research endeavour on the political economy of central banking, which has never been more relevant.” Dr Lambert added.

Dr Pieter van den Berg researches the development of on-demand services such as ambulance care, roadside assistance, and taxi services. “Besides the clear benefits for my future research, I take this award as a recognition of my research capabilities. It is very rewarding to see that a broad committee, as well as specialised reviewers recognise my accomplishments in the past and the potential of my proposal,” he said. “This award will give me time to extend my network of international researchers and practitioners. I have worked with people from Norway, Canada, the USA and Australia, but it has been a challenge to maintain these contacts, and the additional research time will help me to work more closely with these contacts and establish new collaborations.”

Veni grants for innovative research

NWO, the Dutch research council, put forward a total of 1,151 research submissions for research peers to consider before 166 were granted, an award rate of 14 per cent. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge use. In this round of Veni funding, NWO is investing €41.5 million. Grants were awarded to 93 women and 73 men.

RSM research with Veni grants

Dr Thomas Lambert: Captured Financial Authorities

Dr Lambert’s project analyses political dynamics within central banks, and the impact on their ability to ensure financial stability objectives. His research uses new archival data and sophisticated statistical methods. “My research aims to provide evidence-based recommendations to improve regulatory decision-making at financial authorities. Ensuring that decisions are not biased by captured interests is also vital to address any ‘trust deficit’ that citizens may have in regulatory institutions in Europe and elsewhere.”

After the financial crisis of 2007-08, most central banks received explicit responsibilities for financial stability. As a result, they became increasingly vulnerable to political pressures.

“With the objective of increasing financial stability, central banks can have the power to favour one group in society over another; this contrasts with other responsibilities such as monetary policy which is more consensual as it affects everyone in society generally. Yet unlike elected politicians, central bankers’ power does not come directly from the people: they are unelected.

“How can we make sure that central bankers’ decisions best serve society’s needs? Are their decisions affected by other interests, for example from government or the financial industry? The failure of a financial authority – like a central bank – to serve society’s needs by favouring specific interests of government or industry, whether consciously or not, is what economists call the capture of financial authority,” explained Thomas Lambert. “My research proposal aims to quantify and identify the effect of capture on financial authorities’ financial stability objectives.”

Dr Lambert’s area of research interest is the political economy of finance and requires the skilful integration of several elements such as political and economic theories with finance and law. His PhD thesis received several awards for this work, including the monetary thesis prize from the Banque de France Fondation in 2016. He has published articles in top tier economics and finance journals, and his work has been presented at major international conferences. His other research area is FinTech and crowdfunding in particular.

Dr Pieter van den Berg: improving response times for on-demand services

Services like ambulance care and roadside assistance consist of quickly bringing the right resource to the user’s location. Dr Van den Berg will develop optimisation models to improve the way the right resources are brought to users’ locations through distribution of vehicles over the region, and through assigning the right vehicles to requests – a process called dynamic dispatching and distribution. Services include ambulance, roadside breakdown assistance, food delivery, and taxis.

In most cases, the location of the demand is unknown, so for short response times, the servers – typically vehicles – need to be distributed optimally over the region. Depending on the type of service, the objective can be to minimise average response times, maximise coverage, or minimise the cost of providing the service. Where to locate the available servers and how to assign servers to incoming requests are key to the performance of these objectives.

Most state-of-the-art models assume the average time that servers are busy is independent of the distribution of the servers, and is the same for every server. But both of these assumptions are usually violated – and the result is suboptimal decisions for the service. Van den Berg’s research will improve these models by challenging the assumptions, and incorporate the ‘busy time’ calculation in the location optimisation model. This research will also develop better dispatching policies and investigate under which circumstances deviating from ‘sending out the closest unassigned vehicle’ is beneficial.

Van den Berg has a bachelor and master in econometrics and operations research from VU Amsterdam. He completed his PhD in 2016 at Delft University of Technology, studying the logistics of emergency medical service providers, after which he joined RSM as an assistant professor in the department of Technology and Operations Management.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at mschouten@rsm.nl.

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