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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 79 | 10. November 2017
Priority Programme “Experience and Expectation: Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour” (SPP 1859)

In 2015, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Experience and Expectation: Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour” (SPP 1859). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

While the Priority Programme focusses on economic history, its goals are best met by a broad collaboration involving researchers from different disciplines. We invite researchers from history, economics, law, and the social and behavioural sciences to submit proposals for research projects.

Research Questions

Economic decision-making takes place in a complex environment under uncertainty. To reduce uncertainty, economic actors rely on expectations about the future development of economic key variables. The central purpose of this Priority Programme is to investigate how these expectations are formed. The basic hypothesis is that the formation of expectation is not a uniform, standardised and time-invariant process but depends on specific historical factors and circumstances.

The Priority Programme aims at a close integration of historical and economic methods. Three questions dominate our research: First, how does historical experience shape expectations of the future? Second, do expectations change across space and/or time because of differences in culture, institutions, or technology? Third, how do expectations change in the short term due to economic crises or exogenous shocks? The common goal of our interdisciplinary approach is to contribute to the theory of economic expectations by studying historical processes of expectation formation. A central task of this programme is to identify new historical sources which will help us reconstruct empirically processes of expectation formation, and to implement new methods for their analysis.

Structure and Project Design

In this Priority Programme, scholars from different universities and research institutes work together to shed light on the historical dimension of the formation of economic expectations. Currently, the programme combines the expertise of economists, historians, economic sociologists, and legal historians. Workshops organised independently by joint projects serve to facilitate their cooperation on common methods and topics. International scholars are invited to foster cooperation with non-German universities.

In the first funding period, the programme consists of 14 projects. They explore questions regarding security and investment, financial institutions and debt markets, economic expertise and forecasting, and entrepreneurial expectations.

The core research areas for which the programme invites proposals include:

  • financial markets, crises, and phenomena of speculation
  • firms, innovation, and technological change
  • households and consumer behaviour
  • economic policy and regulation
  • experts and scientific forecasting
  • history of economic knowledge

Proposals for the second funding period should not only regard empirical research, but also state how they can contribute to the programme’s theoretical and methodological sophistication. Theoretical conceptualisation and empirical research should have equal importance in the project design. We encourage projects in which researchers from different disciplines cooperate. Participants should be able and willing to forge links between the disciplines. We expect not only excellent research, but also the ability to connect to fellow researchers within and beyond the programme via workshops, conferences, fellowships, and other formats.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 1 June 2018. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process. If you would like to submit a proposal for a new project within the existing Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 1859” from the current list of calls. Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 22 May 2018 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal. In addition to submitting your proposal via elan, please send an electronic copy to the programme coordinator.

If you intend to submit a proposal within the Priority Programme, please send a short message to the program’s coordinators soon. Later on, in addition to the DFG submission via elan, please send a copy of the full project proposal to the programme’s coordinator.

We plan to hold an information meeting for prospective applicants in Berlin on Friday, 19 January 2018, 12-3 pm. An invitation with more details will be published on our website.

The review of the proposals is planned to be held in autumn 2018.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact:


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