Report on Overseas Institutional Visit: January to April 2019
Matthew Walker (Economics, NINE DTP, 2017 – 2021)
Thesis Title: Trust and Trustworthiness in Imbalanced Markets
During the Spring semester of 2019, I participated in a three-month research and training visit to the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) Naveen Jindal School of Management. This visit was preceded by attendance at the Graduate Student Workshop in Experimental Economics at Chapman University in Orange County, California.
The workshop at Chapman brought together PhD students from around the world to explore laboratory methods in economics and learn from leading academics in the field. Its unique format combined first-hand participation in experiment sessions and lectures about the experiment from the researcher’s perspective. The workshop covered varied topics including risk preferences, asset market and dynamic decision-making experiments. We interacted with faculty members throughout the week and received ideas and potential direction for our doctoral research. I met PhD students engaged in similar research methods and topics to myself who I hope to work with in the future. Overall, the week-long workshop gave me a useful grounding for the institutional visit to come.
On arrival at UT Dallas I set out to establish links with potential collaborators at the Center and Laboratory for Behavioral Operations and Economics (LBOE). Active researchers in the LBOE apply quantitative methods in the area of focus for my ESRC-funded research project, namely trust and trustworthiness in procurement and the supply chain. I found that everyone was welcoming and interested to spend time discussing mutual research interests. Being independent of my PhD project, they were able to offer new insights and offered guidance both on specific theoretical and statistical problems that I was encountering, along with more general advice on how to approach the future job market process. A second objective of the visit was to obtain specialist graduate-level training of direct applicability to my thesis research. I audited classes in game theory and negotiation, learning about strategic decision-making behaviors, bargaining and auctions (and the optimal strategy to win at rock-paper-scissors!).
The culmination of my overseas institutional visit was an hour-long slot at which I disseminated my research in progress for feedback during the LBOE’s weekly seminar series. Whilst slightly daunted by the quality of previous speakers during the semester, I enjoyed explaining my research design and findings in detail and received helpful comments about how to revise and expand my work going forward. The formative process of preparing and presenting to an academic audience was invaluable.
I am very grateful to the NINE DTP and ESRC for enabling me to develop my research through an overseas institutional visit, improve my subject-specific knowledge and establish networks that will broaden my career possibilities in the future. I highly recommend other DTP-funded students to consider taking advantage of this opportunity during their doctoral studies and benefit from the unique perspective that international engagement can lend to their research.