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Anne-Katrin Roesler

Anne-Katrin Roesler is a microeconomic theorist interested in game theory, mechanism design and information economics.

Anne-Katrin Roesler joined the Department of Economics in 2016 as an Assistant Professor. While she earned her PhD in economics from the University of Bonn, Germany, her diploma (roughly equivalent to earning a bachelor's and master's degree in the USA) was in mathematics with a minor in astronomy.

During that time, she focused on algebraic topology and category theory, but while she enjoyed the abstract nature and rare elegance of pure mathematics, she realized that it was not enough for her.

“The deeper you get into the abstract topics, the harder it gets to explain generally what you are doing. While writing my diploma thesis, there was only a small group of specialists with whom I could discuss my work. It was nearly impossible to break the materials down and explain them to my family, friends, or even fellow students. I realized that research in pure mathematics didn’t provide me with enough intrinsic motivation to pursue an academic career. I looked for more applied areas where I could draw inspiration from interacting with others while still using the concepts and tools I had developed to solve problems in a more impactful way,” said Anne-Katrin.

She began pursuing a graduate degree in economics never having taken an undergraduate course in the discipline. During that time, she narrowed her interest to microeconomic theory, specifically game theory, information economics and mechanism design. Spending a year at Yale during her PhD gave Anne-Katrin a first impression of the research environment in the US.

This experience lead her to pursue opportunities in the US to take advantage of the excellent research environment and to get exposure to the well-connected academic community in the US. After completing her PhD she spent a post-doctoral year at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University before starting her tenure track position at U-M.

As for choosing U-M, “I’m from Germany and hence more familiar with the European programs. However, U-M’s reputation as a great school was definitely something that I was aware of,” said Anne-Katrin. “What attracted me specifically was U-M’s interdisciplinary character. The department is very large and there are economists in various other departments as well. I hope to get a chance to interact and work with researchers from other disciplines, both within economics and across departments.”

In her research, she is especially interested in information design questions. “In several of my projects, I study information management and information design in different economic environments in which a designer may not have the authority to change the rules of the game (for example the market structure, or the organizational structure of a company). Instead, he may be able to manage the information available to players in the game. He can design the information environment in order to influence the incentives of self-interested players to best achieve a given objective,” explained Anne-Katrin. “For example, a designer who wants to maximize the well-being of a buyer in a monopoly pricing situation first needs to understand how a buyer’s information about his valuation affects the pricing decision of the seller and the buyer’s surplus. This insight then allows to identify buyer-optimal learning, that is, the information environment that maximizes buyer’s surplus.”

“I’m also interested in dynamic team problems,” she continues, “with my co-author Yingni Guo (Northwestern University), I study a collaborative environment in which a team works on a joint project but there is uncertainty about the probability of a success. For this project, we were motivated by the observation that a wide range of team projects, from co-authorship to large-scale global corporate projects, exhibits the feature that team members have only very limited understanding of how hard it will be to complete the project – the probability of a success is uncertain. In these situations, by contributing to the project, the team members not only work towards successfully completing the project but also get more familiar with the project and may learn that it has a low success rate. In this case, the member has to decide whether to leave the project or to free-ride on the other members’ efforts, hoping that this will result in success.
In our paper, we provide a game theoretic model to analyze this situation and identify equilibrium behavior. ”

To find out more about Anne-Katrin’s research, visit her homepage.