The resignation of the former head of IZA, Simon Jägers, and the intended appointment of Armin Falk, the former head of the Briq Institute, as his successor have caused consternation in the economist scene. A number of scientists express their displeasure in a planned letter, in which they call on those responsible in no uncertain terms to reconsider their decision: "We would like to express our deep dismay at this decision," the economists write to the rectorate of the University of Bonn and the former head of Swiss Post Klaus Zumwinkel, who is now president of the Swiss Post Foundation, which significantly finances the two research institutes.
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Falk's appointment as head of IZA "would be deeply damaging for the institution, demoralizing for its many members, and a humiliating step backwards for the profession of economists," according to the letter, which was obtained by the F.A.Z. As of Tuesday morning, more than 350 scientists had already signed the letter.
The letter, which is due to be published later this week, focuses on the serious allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of power that were made against Armin Falk last year. An investigation had taken place, in which the allegations had not been confirmed. But there is obviously a lot of resentment about how the Briq Institute reacted to the allegations in an initial statement at the time. Many found this "deeply offensive and irresponsible."
At the time, Falk's reaction "cost him the trust and esteem of his colleagues and was intended to disqualify him from a position of power and trust," the economists write. His appointment was a "callous, backward-looking signal to the profession". If no other head of international cooperation is appointed, the economists intend to leave the IZA research network on January 1.
The withdrawal of such a large group would be a major blow. The institute is very proud of its global network of labour market experts. With around 2000 researchers, it is "the largest network in labor economics," according to the institute's website.