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Research Activities

HUGIN investigates the connections between human capital, growth and innovation from three perspectives:

  • Learning and knowledge-based strategies for sustainable growth of enterprises;
  • The relationships between learning and knowledge on the one hand, and income and employment in industries and occupations on the other;
  • The contribution of human capital to the economic growth of regions and nations.

The research portfolio reflects the scope of analysis undertaken at HUGIN:


Your question:

FP7 funded European Union project on Lifelong Learning, Innovation, Growth and Human capital Tracks in Europe in a research consortium of 8 universities, with duration of three years (2012 to 2015). HUGIN is Coordinator of LLLight’in’Europe.

  • Duration: January 2012 to September 2015
  • Role of HUGIN: Coordinator of project, leader of work packages 1, 7 and 10
  • Project Director: Prof Dr Peer Ederer, HUGIN Center at Zeppelin University
  • Project Leader: Alexander Patt for Economics Team, HUGIN Center at ZU, Silvia Castellazzi for work package on company participation
  • Total Budget: 3.590.000 Euro


Among all Europeans between 24 and 65 years old who had a tertiary educational degree in 2010, 82.8% were working. In the same age group, 68.3% who completed secondary schooling were working. Only 46% of those who did not complete secondary schooling were working. It is apparent that if Europe wants to be working, higher education is the necessary foundation for being competitive in the labor market. Since this is not only true for generations of future workers currently in school, but equally so for those who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s today, Lifelong Learning must be essential for continued employability. The cumulative investment necessary to generate higher education degrees alone for adults over the next two decades across Europe may be 3.5 trillion euros, or 1.4% of the European GDP per year. Even higher investments will be required in non-formal and informal Lifelong Learning. To help guide this investment, this research project will find answers to the following urgent questions:

  1. How do successful enterprises actively employ Lifelong Learning for their competitive advantage?
  2. Which public policy environments facilitate Lifelong Learning for such enterprises and entrepreneurs?
  3. How does Lifelong Learning interact with and promote innovativeness on the enterprise level?
  4. How much of which skills do European adults actually have?
  5. What are the actual learning mechanisms in adult life that lead to these skills?
  6. What are the causal effects of these skills on growth, competitiveness and social cohesion?


  • Zeppelin University, Peer Ederer
  • University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, John Holford
  • Department of Education (DPU), Aarhus University, Ulrik Brandi
  • ifo Institut, Ludger Woessmann
  • Wageningen University, Netherlands, Thomas Lans
  • University of Luxembourg, Samuel Greiff
  • University of Economics Bratislava, Martina Lubyova
  • China Center for Human Capital and Labour Market Research, China, Haizheng Li
  • Innovation & Growth Academy, Netherlands, Silvia Castellazzi

Advisory Board

Xavier Prats Monné; Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General for Education and Culture, European CommissionAndreas Schleicher; Deputy Director and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General, Directorate for Education, OECD

Iain Murray; Senior Policy Officer responsible for Policy on Learning and Skills, Educational Policy, and Regional Government and Devolution, Trades Union Congress (TUC), United Kingdom

Oskar Heer; Director Labour Relations, Daimler AG Stuttgart

Roger van Hoesel; Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Startlife and Managing Director at Food Valley


Your question:

Research partnership with CID Harvard University on Skill Changes along the Cycles: Effects of Skill restructuring on employment, wages and Survival.

  • Duration: from April 2013
  • Role of HUGIN: Initiator of project
  • Project Leader: Dr Ljubica Nedelkoska, HUGIN Center at ZU
  • Research Partner: CID Harvard


Despite the average decline in production, recessions are not only characterized by industrial losers, but also by winners. As the opportunity costs of (re-)qualification as well as the costs of forgone production associated with technological and organizational innovation become relatively low, both individuals and firms time major changes in their productive capacities during recessions. The proposed research will investigate the long-term effects of recession-induced human capital restructuring on individual and firm performance. At the level of firms we propose that recession-related increases in the average quality of the workforce can boost long-term productivity. At the level of individuals we put forward that recession-induced decisions to re-qualify or gain more education can improve the long-term career prospects of these workers. For an empirical analysis of these relations, we will use a linked employer-employee panel from the German administrative records as our prime source of information about individual and establishment dynamics, and supplement it with survey data on tasks in order to build better measures of human capital.

Business Ethics and Provision of Training

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Business Ethics and provision of further Training – Responsibility of Companies from the Perspective of Economic Ethics, PhD research project by Silvia Castellazzi, 2012 - 2014

  • Duration: 2012 to 2014
  • Role of HUGIN: Prof Dr Ederer is supervisor of PhD candidate Silvia Castellazzi
  • Main question: What can be legitimately requested to companies in terms of their social responsibility concerning matters of training provision to employees?


Over the past decades changes in the economic structure and in the policy agendas of European countries have brought about essential modifications in the provision of training and in its main features. Companies have become both relevant actors in the demand for further training for the own employees and relevant actors in the supply of training, individuals have realized the importance of a life-cycle approach to support their employability and public officers have taken up – to different extents - the arbitral role of these processes.

Not only the overall policy framework has shifted towards more discretional power being given to individuals and companies - but also within organizations tendencies show how the outsourcing and the buying of training “products” on the market (rather than their internal development) has gained momentum, multiplying the actors involved in the provision (see Kühnlein 2001, Gainey/Klaas 2003). The combination of these two trends (corporatization and privatization) has made the number of actors involved in the policy design and provision of training increase – if traditionally the question of the role division in the provision of education and training is addressed to the State and the private sector, with the addition of the individual as the final consumer (because of the creation of an actual market), the specific scenario for the provision of continuous vocational training now sees a plethora of actors engaging in collaborations and competition within policy schemes designed, but not directly steered, by public officers.

The quality and kind of training was necessarily touched by these modifications. On the one hand some intrinsic characteristics of training have herewith been triggered by the privatization, revealing its investment specificity and its monitoring difficulties, which make it harder to deal with from a controlling and evaluation perspective (see Buttler 1994). These features have been enhanced some more by the outsourcing trends, where the risk of being exposed to opportunistic behavior (and the related tendency to preventive reactions) on the one or the other side of the transaction increases. In addition to this, the product training is in itself in the middle of a conflict of interests, pulled by different actors into different directions on what its ultimate goal should be. This puts the final effectiveness and efficiency at risk by attracting the expectations of both companies (increase productivity), individuals (foster employability) and public institutions (support the competitiveness of the system) (see Düll/Bellmann 1998, 1999).

On the other hand, the role of the enterprise in designing, strategizing, financing and monitoring training efforts has been pushed to the forefront, gaining an unprecedented relevance and impact in the field and becoming independent from stringent public policy guidelines and requests. This de facto more central role of the enterprise in the decentralized coordination of the provision segment, however, has not been translated into a more central and comprehensive coordination of the whole learning process.

The segmentation of the training provision into different actors (and of the learning process into different phases) has not been removed, and has on the contrary opened up the question of who should be in charge of steering it. This fragmentation in fact bears substantial effects on the quality and type of the training provided, and on the chances of employees to participate in a profitable way. Reinforcement of educational divide, negative effects on (multi)disadvantaged groups, dead-weight effects, controlling mechanisms exacerbating the culture of the “input” against that of the “output” and “impact”, short-term planning instead of long-term employability vision are some of the objections addressed to a private sector which seems unable to steer the competition towards more effective and more fair processes. While the provision of training has long entered the CSR reporting of good-willing companies, a thorough investigation of the ethics of training provision and in particular of the role of the employing enterprise is still lacking – even though becoming an objective of the requests of many social partners.

The European Commission, in its Green Paper on CSR 2001, has for instance thus established the link between enterprise responsibility and the provision of a good (i.e. employability-relevant) human capital:
“…and providing an environment which encourages lifelong learning by all employees, particularly by the less educated, the less skilled and older workers.”

While the role of the enterprise is caught in its relevance and the problem of the (multi)disadvantaged groups is met, the policy statement uses a weak verb such as “encourage” which is consistent with the EU position on CSR (seen as a voluntary commitment beyond business activities), but which does not give answers to the compatibility of these efforts with the market or policy situation.

Other partners also call for strategies and responsibility in this field, especially considering the relevance of demographic change in continental European countries. Trade unions for instance, concerned about the employability of their members – especially the elder ones –, have started addressing requests to companies. The IG Metall in Germany argues that the lack of strategies within enterprises to deliver an environment which is conducive for elder people might put at risk the implementation of the 67+ retirement age policy of the Government and asks for new models and strategies which can support training and other aspects of the working quality.

More examples of the social relevance of training and of the importance of its quality within today’s individualized labour market could be named. Common to them is the origin in the above-mentioned trends and the crucial role that companies play in deciding upon participation, methods, topics and strategies.

This research builds on the relevance of training for a functioning workforce and a fair competition and starts with the observation that the word “encourage” in the policy statement should be replaced by “organize” – i.e. organizing interactions and responsibilities and acting with the engagement of other partners towards interest-compatible solution-making processes – if the squaring of the circle is to be reached. Building on an economically-oriented business ethical approach (the ökonomische Ethik developed by Karl Homann and Andreas Suchanek), rather than asking for absolute numbers and guidelines on what should be achieved, and rejecting the possibility (and the legitimacy of the request) of a single enterprise acting alone against its own market condition, this work aims at drawing process indications and focal points which can lead to more and better training across employees categories.

Herewith it aims at investigating both the foundation and the implementability of responsibility strategies and at providing companies and public stakeholders with a framework for delimitating and specifying the responsibility of enterprises and their role in the provision of training.


Your question:

Institutional analysis to understand the effectiveness of social development aid channelled via public agency donor driven approaches, or via social entrepreneurship driven approach, PhD research project by Fikru Arja, Adama University, 2011 – 2014

eMA FESH Summer Academy

Your question:

Comparing the role of family enterprises in a country’s socioeconomic development between the large macrogrowth regions of the world: Brazil, India, Southeast Asia to Germany.

Human Capital Taxonomy

Your question:

Development of a mutually exclusive, comprehensively exhaustive taxonomy of terms for human capital, internally funded HUGIN research effort.