Method - Interdisciplinarity
Interdisciplinarity is a key distinctive feature of TILEC, widely recognized and valued inside and outside Tilburg University. It provides value-added through its effects on the research questions which are asked; the greater depth and breadth of analysis; the improved presentation of research findings; and the greater involvement in policy-relevant research.
From the outset, TILEC took a different approach from most other institutes that work at the intersection of law and economics. In terms of substance, law and economics is frequently one- sidedly identified with economic analysis of law. While some of the work at TILEC falls into this category, a greater part of our economic research can better be described as using law to enrich economic analysis. Conversely, the legal work done at TILEC is informed by, or even builds upon, economic analysis. This approach emphasizes the two-sided relationship between the two disciplines.
TILEC was conceived as an interdisciplinary, inter-faculty institute. In the USA, ‘law and economics’ is typically associated with the work of economics-trained faculty (usually holders of a PhD in economics) within law schools. In Europe, law faculty members usually hold a PhD in law, but only few are also trained in economics (and hardly any at PhD level): ‘law and economics’ is therefore carried out mostly by legal academics with limited economics training, working within law faculties. TILEC combines the best of both formulae and pushes scholarship to new frontiers. It brings together academics trained at PhD level in their respective disciplines, coming from their respective mono-disciplinary schools but genuinely interested to learn through intensive interaction with the other discipline. At the same time, it also aspires to promote more interdisciplinary scholarship, particularly of an empirical nature.
Members come to TILEC with the methods from their respective disciplines. Throughout our activities, we enable TILEC members to enrich their respective disciplinary research with a rich and scientifically sound understanding of the other discipline. By the latter, we mean that the other discipline is understood dynamically as a lively scientific endeavor, and not statically as a mere source of immutable answers. TILEC members turn to TILEC to improve their contributions to their own discipline. They test their knowledge and output by exposing themselves to the critical eye of researchers from the other discipline, which most of the times leads to questioning various aspects of one’s research and significant improvements in the final draft of a given piece of research. When the opportunity arises, we also foster joint research efforts across disciplines. To make this work, TILEC brings together lawyers and economists who are willing to work on specific problems within the context of the TILEC research program. TILEC promotes close research collaboration, in particular through empirical projects, by facilitating the training or assistance necessary to carry out the cross-disciplinary work. The TILEC management takes advantage of policy or scientific developments, as well as the opportunities offered by contract research or long-term sponsorship agreements, to guide members towards the production of output that will ultimately contribute to both disciplines.
TILEC has established an inspiring and internationally-oriented research environment. Narrow boundaries among disciplines have been transcended by means of regular communication of informal nature, especially among young scholars at the PhD and assistant professor level. Both legal scholars and economists within TILEC dare to question the limits of their knowledge and enrich their writings by becoming acquainted with the corresponding scholarship of the other discipline. This environment has led to the delivery of innovative and fundamental research output of high caliber, while allowing TILEC to contribute to policy discussions. We intend to continue on this path.