Function & Organization

Function, structure

RWI is a modern center for scientific research and evidence-based policy advice. The spectrum of its  work spans the core fields of economics, including labor markets, education, health, public finance, and energy and climate. It sees itself as a provider of objective and non-partisan analysis to decision-makers in the public and private sectors (read more in our Mission Statement).

RWI offers young scholars high-quality educational opportunities that emphasize both practical applications and a solid scientific foundation. It is one of the founders of the Ruhr Graduate School in Economics (RGS Econ). That school was founded in the fall of 2004 in collaboration with the economics faculties at the universities at Bochum, Dortmund and Duisburg-Essen.

RWI will continue to be aware of its roots in the region and its mission to analyze its peculiarities. It is one of the founding institutes of the Ruhr Science Forum, launched in 2004, where the non-university research institutions of the Ruhr Region have organized themselves.

RWI is a member of the Leibniz Association. It is funded by the Federal Government and the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Requirements are changing

Over the last years the demands imposed by funding agencies are growing relentlessly - in regard to scientific and technical quality, in regard to the transparency of the presentation of the results and recommendations, and in regard to the competitive abilities of the associates. Meanwhile not only the traditional distribution of tasks between economic research institutes and the academic research landscape is questioned, but the continued existence of the institutions in general.

Substantive and organizational reorientation at RWI

Since 2003 RWI has implemented a substantive and organizational reorientation to establish harmonized and clearly delineated research and work profiles. Thereby it strengthened the quality of its economic policy consulting praxis through scientific quality. On the one hand RWI delivers the required breadth of the expertise in economic policy consulting praxis. On the other hand it strives in selected key areas – supported by networking with universities and other research institutes – to achieve or retain market leadership in research, as well. Its organizational structure which supports this progress by imparting flexibility is a decisive competitive advantage here.

Flexible organization in “Areas of Competence”

RWI-research projects are bundled in key areas and further in areas of competence or divisions. The science workers find their organizational grounding in these divisions whereby both multiple anchoring and reassignment are possible if the associate's own research focus should shift. The earlier rigid subdivision of the Institute into so-called research groups has been eliminated and the project managers now have to recruit their associates in the spirit of an internal competition.

Key area “Labor markets and Health”

The two divisions “Labor Markets, Education, Population” and “Health Economics” bring together projects on questions associated with individual prosperity. Their work in the fields of health and education explores fields which are largely new for the German research community as a whole. In the meantime these divisions have lodged a claim to leadership in these core topics by way of publications and expert analyses, this above all in the evaluation of labor market projects. The research data center FDZ Ruhr at RWI (FDZ) is also a part of the key area. It provides micro-data sets, regional econometrics analyses and the content-related evaluation of own data sets. Most of them are related to the divisions “Labor Markets, Education, Population” and “Health Economics”.

Key area “Macroeconomics and Environment”

This key area brings together the division „Macroeconomics and Public Finance“, the research group „Sustainability and Governance“ and the division „Environment and Resources“. The main focus of their work is on questions of overall economic relevance. In the division “Macroeconomics and Public Finance” the Institute's previous strengths in current business cycle diagnostics and prognoses as well as the analysis of public budgets are to be augmented systematically with new topics. In the division „Environment and Resources“ a strength of the past - research  into energy matters - is to be expanded by adding new topics.

The divisions are augmented by the non-scientific departments.

Competencies are steadily advanced

Achieving the objectives mentioned presumes continuous expansion of methodic and substantive competencies. Mentioned by way of example is the fact that a fundamental development in empirical research, i.e. increased application of microeconometric methods, has been carried out at RWI. This happens through further developing its scientists individually and working out new topics and research focal points and by the carefully planned recruiting of new associates in entry level and leadership positions.

The broad mission as defined in its bylaws and the business-like organization of operating procedures make it possible to carry out closely coordinated projects in a methodically coherent fashion and thus to draw additional value from the concentration of empirical economics researchers in a single facility. At the same time the eminently manageable size of RWI Essen - currently with about 60 science workers - makes possible direct and project-related cooperation among the executive board, project managers and associates. This allows to sharpen the research profile.

Quality assurance and evaluation

Publication success and the acquisition of much-sought-after third-party funding provide an unequivocal evaluation of the scientific output of RWI. Its outputs are also subject to continuous monitoring. In addition to a number of internal quality assurance mechanisms external roads to quality assurance are key.

The Scientific Advisory Board with its highly respected members and its balance in regard to the disciplines represented supervises and actively shapes the development of the Institute with a high degree of dedication. It regularly audits RWI in order to obtain a systematic “inventory” of its resources.

Also of prime importance is the external quality assurance process which the Leibniz Association has implemented for its member institutions. In January of 2005 the scientific performance, the coherence of the research program and the research policy significance were evaluated by an independent, outside board of experts. RWI passed this evaluation with flying colors (Comments by the Senate of the Leibniz Association). In May of 2006 the Federal-State Commission for Education Planning and Research Sponsorship approved the further granting of funds to RWI. In 2012 RWI was evaluated again – with outstanding results (Comments by the Senate of the Leibniz Association). The evaluation in 2019 also gave RWI a very good report (Comments by the Senate of the Leibniz Association).

The Institute


For further information please contact Sabine Weiler (Press office) Phone: +49 (201) 8149-213,