Christoph Engel Can We Distribute Goods Efficiently Without Property Rights?

Christoph Engel is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods (Bonn, Germany) and has held teaching positions at several universities, including the position of Chair for Experimental Law and Economics at Erasmus University Law School in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He is also an Honorary Professor of the University of Osnabrück, Germany. His research focus includes Behavioral and Experimental Law and Economics. Engel has been serving as a member of several advisory boards, including the Academic Board to the German Minister of Economics and Labor, and is a member of the Academia Europaea.

Area of Research

Behavioural Law and Economics, Economic Law, Experimental Law and Economics

Christoph Engel, Heike Hennig-Schmidt, Bernd Irlenbusch and Sebastian Kube. "On Probation. An Experimental Analysis." Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 12 (2015): 252-288.  
Christoph Engel. "Social Preferences Can Make Imperfect Sanctions Work: Evidence from a Public Good Experiment." Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 108 (2014): 343-353.  
Christoph Engel and Theodore Eisenberg. "Assuring Civil Damages Adequately Deter: A Public Good Experiment." Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 11 (2014): 301-349.  
Christoph Engel. Generating Predictability. Institutional Analysis and Institutional Design. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.  

since 2013


Humanities Section, Max Planck Society

since 2012


Advisory Council Amsterdam Center of Law and Economics

since 2004

Honorary Professor

University of Osnabrück (Universität Osnabrück)

Faculty of Law

since 2003

Member, Academic Advisory Council

Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, Mannheim

since 2003


Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

since 2003


University of Bonn (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn)

Rechts- und Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät

since 1997

Member, Academic Advisory Council

German Ministry of Economics


Sanders Chair

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Law School


Member of the Board

Vereinigung der Deutschen Staatsrechtslehrer


Member, Academic Advisory Council

Hochschule für Verwaltungswissenschaften Speyer


Member of the Board (Hochschulrat)

University of Erfurt (Universität Erfurt)


Co-Chairman, National Research Council, Steering Committee,

Global Networks and Local Values



Max Planck Project Group for the Law of Common Goods


Full Professor

University of Osnabrück (Universität Osnabrück)

Chair for Media and Communications Law


Research Assistant / Research Associate, Public Law, Media and Communications Law

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law


Research Assistant, Public Law and Public International Law

University of Tübingen (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)


Post Doctoral Thesis

University of Hamburg (Universität Hamburg)


Doctoral Thesis

University of Tübingen (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)


Second State Exam in Law

University of Hamburg (Universität Hamburg)


First State Exam in Law

University of Tübingen (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

- Book Series Law and Economics of International Telecommunications

- Book Series Common Goods: Law, Politics and Economics

- International Seminars on the New Institutional Economics


- Friedwart Bruckhaus Förderpreis, Hanns Martin Schleyer Stiftung (1989)


- Member, Academia Europaea (2002)

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)


Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

"Many goods are not obviously best provided by unregulated markets. This does not necessarily imply that government does a better job. But research can do society a service in defining why markets have a hard time with some goods, and in comparing institutional arrangements aiming at their provision. In a precise way, the problem is defined by the concept of public goods. Capitalising on the theory of mechanism design, it can be further improved. Using experimental methods, it can be put into perspective. Yet some social dilemmas are better analysed in alternative categories. It may even be preferable to start analytically from the political decision to intervene into markets. The institute tackles these questions from the combined perspectives of economics, law and psychology. While the institute started with applications from environmental problems, current work focuses on antitrust, regulation and financial stability." (Source)


Even in the absence of absolute property rights, ex-post bargaining may lead to efficient distribution of goods, CHRISTOPH ENGEL explains in this video. The findings of this research thus extend the domain of the Coase theorem. In the experiment, with a society of two individuals and a single commodity, a good ends up with the individual who values it most even if only relative property rights – i.e., rights only against other parties to a contract – are provided.

LT Video Publication DOI:

Bargaining in the Absence of Property Rights: An Experiment

  • Oren Bar-Gill and Christoph Engel
  • MPI Collective Goods Preprint
  • Published in 2015
Oren Bar-Gill and Christoph Engel. "Bargaining in the Absence of Property Rights: An Experiment." MPI Collective Goods Preprint 19 (2015).