Arjen van Witteloostuijn

“Demographic diversity and the evolution of social entities”

Arjen van Witteloostuijn was born in 1960 in The Netherlands. He Obtained a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Business in 1982, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 1983, a Master in Economics and Business in 1985, at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and a PhD in Economics in 1990 at the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Arjen van Witteloostuijn is a multidisciplinary researcher in behavioural, economic and social sciences. Much of his work relates to issues of the antecedents and consequences of demographic diversity at different levels of analysis.

The granted project is entitled: “Demographic diversity and the evolution of social entities” or “The ecological study of the behaviour and performance of teams, organizations, industries, networks and communities”. The project deals with the antecedents and consequences of demographic diversity in the realm of teams, organizations, industries, networks and communities. Demographic diversity refers to groups of people or organizations. Both can be more or less divers in terms of, e.g., age, gender and personality (people) or age, size, strategy (organizations). The key questions are where this extent of diversity comes from and what it implies for the behaviour and performance of the social entities involved. At the team level, for instance, the metabolism of executive boards of corporate enterprises will be studied. What types of managers enter into and leave from such boards, and what is the impact of this turnover and the implied (change in) demographic diversity on the organization’s strategy and performance? At the community level, for example, the focus is on the origin and effect of a city’s population diversity (age, ethnicity, religion, etc.). “Why is Antwerp more or less diverse than Rotterdam, and what does this imply for these cities’ social cohesion and economic performance?” is a typical question. The proposed research programme is groundbreaking by providing centre stage to demographic diversity of social entities. It is unique in its multi-method, multi-disciplinary and multi-level approach. First, theory will be developed by building models using mathematical and simulation techniques, whilst the empirical studies will analyze novel panel datasets by applying advanced multivariate statistical tools. Second, insights from different economic and social science disciplines will be combined and integrated, notably economics, public administration, economics, economic geography, political science, psychology and sociology. Third, the multi-level perspective will be explored systematically, implying that interactions across different levels of analysis will be investigated.

The jury appreciates the impressive track record of Arjen van Witteloostuijn and is convinced that he is a creative, very active and interdisciplinary researcher. The project is ambitious, broad and daring and proposes an interdisciplinary and multi-level approach. Arjen van Witteloostuijn will carry out the proposed research. With his group, a new centre of excellence will be established in the University of Antwerp, that will bring together a group of high-quality researchers.