Faculty Profile

Benny Geys

Professor - Department of Economics


BENNY GEYS (°1977) is Professor in Economics at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo and Research Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). His research focuses on (local) government performance, intergovernmental relations and civic engagement.


Geys, Benny; Heggedal, Tom-Reiel & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2019)

Popular support for environmental protection: A life-cycle perspective

British Journal of Political Science

Support for environmental protection is generally perceived as driven by cohort or generational effects. We argue and empirically illustrate that such attitudes also fluctuate over the life cycle. Using rotating panels of the Norwegian Election Studies (1989-2013), our analysis is able to identify such life-cycle effects while controlling for cohort and period effects through a methodological innovation exploiting the first-derivative properties of the environmental concern function. Our main findings provide strong evidence of an inverted U-shape over the life cycle, which implies that substantial population aging in advanced economies may partially offset any generational shift towards a greater emphasis on protecting the environment.

Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2019)

The Impact of Women above the Political Glass Ceiling: Evidence from a Norwegian Executive Gender Quota Reform

Electoral Studies, 60, s. 1- 10. Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2019.102050 - Full text in research archive

Women have historically been underrepresented in democratic assemblies, particularly in top positions with executive powers. Most gender quota reforms address this by mandating a more equal gender representation on election lists. In contrast, a 1992 legislative reform in Norway required parties' candidate lists for the local executive board to comprise at least 40% politicians of each gender. This legal change was not only exogenously imposed by a higher-level government, but also generated distinct quota-induced constraints across Norwegian municipalities. We exploit the resulting variation in ‘quota shocks’ using a difference-in-differences design to identify the quota's effect on women's political representation as well as local public policies. We find that more women enter the executive board after the reform, though spill-overs on women's representation in the local council and on the probability of a female mayor or top administrator are weak. We also find no consistent evidence for shifts in public policies due to increased representation of women in positions with executive powers.

Murdoch, Zuzana; Kassim, Hussein, Connolly, Sara & Geys, Benny (2019)

Do international institutions matter? Socialization and international bureaucrats

European Journal of International Relations, 25(3), s. 852- 877. Doi: 10.1177/1354066118809156

Titl, Vitezslav & Geys, Benny (2019)

Political Donations and the Allocation of Public Procurement Contracts

European Economic Review, 111, s. 443- 458. Doi: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2018.11.004

We study whether and when firms’ donations to political parties induce favouritism in public procurement allocations. Our analysis builds on a unique, comprehensive dataset covering all public procurement contracts and all corporate donations to major political parties in the Czech Republic over the period from 2007 to 2014, and exploits changes in political control over regional governments within this period for identification purposes. We find that firms donating 10% more to a political party gaining (losing) power witness an increase (decrease) in the value of their public procurement contracts by 0.5–0.6%. Importantly, and in line with theoretical expectations, these effects only arise for contracts allocated under less restrictive procurement allocation processes. Assessing the underlying mechanisms, we show that donating firms receive more small contracts allocated under less regulated procurement procedures, face less competition in more regulated and open procurement procedures, and tend to win with bids further above the estimated cost of the procurement contract.

Boenisch, Peter; Geys, Benny & Michelsen, Claus (2019)

David and Goliath in the Poll Booth: Group Size, Political Power and Voter Turnout

Local Government Studies, 45, s. 724- 747. Doi: 10.1080/03003930.2018.1510390

This article analyses how the presence of a dominant group of voters within the electorate affects voter turnout. Theoretically, we argue that its absolute size affects turnout via increased free-riding incentives and reduced social pressure to vote within a larger dominant group. Its relative size compared to other groups within the electorate influences turnout through instrumental and expressive responses – in both the dominant and dominated groups – to the degree of electoral competition between groups. Empirical evidence from a large cross section of German municipalities is in line with these theoretical predictions. The observed effects should be taken into account when redesigning electoral jurisdictions through, for instance, municipal mergers or gerrymandering.

Geys, Benny & Konrad, Kai A. (2019)

Patriotism and taxation

Sardoč, Mitja (red.). Handbook of Patriotism

De Witte, Kristof; Geys, Benny & Schönhage, Nanna Lauritz (2018)

Strategic public policy around population thresholds

Journal of Urban Economics, 106(July), s. 46- 58. Doi: 10.1016/j.jue.2018.06.001

Political economists have long maintained that politicians respond to both (re-)election and financial incentives. This article contributes to the latter literature by analysing whether, when and how local office-holders respond to the economic incentives embedded in exogenously imposed population thresholds leading to an increased number and remuneration of local politicians. Building on insights from the urban economics and public finance literatures, we argue that local politicians may strategically adjust fiscal and housing policies to stimulate in-migration when approaching a population threshold where their remuneration increases. Using data from all 589 Belgian municipalities over the period 1977–2016, our results confirm that approaching important population thresholds causes lower local tax rates and the granting of additional building permits (particularly for apartments). These policy changes occur early in the election cycle and, at least for housing policy, are restricted to incumbent mayors themselves expecting to benefit from crossing the population threshold.

Slegten, Caroline; Geys, Benny & Heyndels, Bruno (2018)

Sex differences in budgetary preferences among Flemish local politicians

Acta Politica, s. 1- 24. Doi: 10.1057/s41269-018-0090-4 - Full text in research archive

Holm, Joshua & Geys, Benny (2018)

Social Identification and Redistribution in Heterogeneous Federations: Evidence from Germany and Belgium

Comparative Political Studies, 51(9), s. 1177- 1207. Doi: 10.1177/0010414017730081 - Full text in research archive

Recent evidence of increasing income heterogeneity within developed countries has reignited debates concerning the redistribution of income and wealth. In this article, we contribute to this debate by assessing the role of individuals’ jurisdictional identification for their preferences toward intrafederation redistributive financial flows. Incorporating insights from social identity theory in a model of redistributive taxation, we show that federal, rather than local, identification can lead individuals to shift their redistribution preferences independent of their narrowly defined personal economic interests. Moreover, contrary to conventional wisdom, welfare state support will sometimes be decreasing in national identification. We empirically assess these predictions using individual-level data from the 2008 German General Social Survey (ALLBUS) and a 2013-2014 survey among Belgian local politicians. Our findings provide strong support for the model’s core predictions in both settings

Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2018)

Never Change a Winning Policy? Public Sector Performance and Politicians’ Preferences for Reforms

PAR. Public Administration Review, 78(2), s. 206- 216. Doi: 10.1111/puar.12824 - Full text in research archive

Despite the increasing stress on performance in public sector organizations, there is still little empirical evidence on whether—and if so, how—politicians respond to performance information. This article addresses this research gap by linking registry statistics on school performance in Norway's 428 municipalities with data from an information experiment embedded in a survey of local politicians. Findings show that school performance bears only a weak relationship to politicians' preferences for resource-related reforms, but it strongly affects preferences for governance-related reforms, indicating the importance of accounting for heterogeneity across alternative types of (school) reforms. Moreover, local politicians are, on average, well informed about school performance. This reflects the force of local inhabitants' high information level on politicians' accountability.

Trondal, Jarle; Murdoch, Zuzana & Geys, Benny (2018)

How pre- and post-recruitment factors shape role perceptions of European Commission officials

Governance. An International Journal of Policy, Administration and Institutions, 31(1), s. 85- 101. Doi: 10.1111/gove.12269 - Full text in research archive

Individuals' role perceptions are central guides to their behavior and choices as members of an organization. Understanding organizational dynamics thus requires knowledge about the determinants of such role perceptions, as well as whether—and when—organizations can influence them. This article brings forward a theoretical framework allowing for both prerecruitment (extraorganizational) and post-recruitment (intraorganizational) determinants of individuals' role perceptions, and examines its empirical implications using a large-N data set of temporary officials in the European Commission. We find that intergovernmental and epistemic role perceptions are strongly linked to pre-recruitment factors (such as educational and professional background), whereas postrecruitment factors (such as length of affiliation and embeddedness within the Commission) are the main driving force behind supranational and departmental role perceptions. This heterogeneity in the importance of pre- and postrecruitment factors for distinct role perceptions has important consequences for conceptualizing organizational change.

Geys, Benny & Qari, Salmai (2017)

Will you still trust me tomorrow? The causal effect of terrorism on social trust

Public Choice, 173(3-4), s. 289- 305. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-017-0477-1 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny; Heggedal, Tom-Reiel & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2017)

Are Bureaucrats Paid like CEOs? Performance Compensation and Turnover of Top Civil Servants

Journal of Public Economics, 152, s. 47- 54. Doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.05.006

Recent research explores the effect of financial and career incentives on public-sector hiring processes and subsequent performance. The reverse relation between performance and bureaucrats’ compensation and turnover has received only limited attention. Due to the distinct features of public-sector organizations, bureaucrats are traditionally argued to require either permanent positions and fixed wages, or low-powered performance incentives. This article studies how the performance of top civil servants in Norwegian local governments affects their compensation and turnover. We thereby build on a unique new dataset over the period 1991-2014. Our results indicate that better performing top civil servants obtain a higher compensation and are less likely to be replaced. Nonetheless, these incentives remain low-powered in line with agency theory prescriptions.

Geys, Benny (2017)

Do Voluntary Associations Show their Bright or Dark Side under Adverse Societal Shocks? Evidence from 9/11

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 46(6), s. 1189- 1208. Doi: 10.1177/0899764017718634 - Full text in research archive

Kuehnhanss, Colin; Murdoch, Zuzana, Geys, Benny & Heyndels, Bruno (2017)

Identity, threat aversion, and civil servants’ policy preferences: Evidence from the European Parliament

Public Administration, 95(4), s. 1009- 1025. Doi: 10.1111/padm.12348 - Full text in research archive

Mahieu, Bram; Geys, Benny & Heyndels, Bruno (2017)

Fiscal fairness as a political argument

Kyklos (Basel), 70(4), s. 622- 640. Doi: 10.1111/kykl.12151 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Smith, Daniel Markham (2017)

Political Dynasties in Democracies: Causes, Consequences and Remaining Puzzles

Economic Journal, 127(605), s. 446- 454. Doi: 10.1111/ecoj.12442

Geys, Benny (2017)

Political Dynasties, Electoral Institutions and Politicians’ Human Capital

Economic Journal, 127(605), s. F474- F494. Doi: 10.1111/ecoj.12444

Hassan, Mamdouh & Geys, Benny (2017)

What Do We Value Most In Schools? An Empirical Study of Stakeholders’ Preference Rankings of School Attributes

Social Science Quarterly, 98(5), s. 1313- 1327. Doi: 10.1111/ssqu.12337 - Full text in research archive

Murdoch, Zuzana; Trondal, Jarle & Geys, Benny (2016)

Representative bureaucracy and seconded national government officials in the European Commission

Regulation & Governance, 10(4), s. 335- 349. Doi: 10.1111/rego.12089 - Full text in research archive

Freier, Ronny; Geys, Benny & Holm, Joshua (2016)

Religious Heterogeneity and Fiscal Policy: Evidence from German Reunification

Journal of Urban Economics, 94, s. 1- 12. Doi: 10.1016/j.jue.2016.05.001 - Full text in research archive

Blockmans, Tom; Geys, Benny, Heyndels, Bruno & Mahieu, Bram (2016)

Bargaining complexity and the duration of government formation: evidence from Flemish municipalities

Public Choice, 167(1-2), s. 131- 143. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-016-0333-8 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2016)

Revenue scarcity and government outsourcing: Evidence from Norwegian local governments

Public Administration, 94(3), s. 769- 788. Doi: 10.1111/padm.12262 - Full text in research archive

Cancela, Joao & Geys, Benny (2016)

Explaining Voter Turnout: A Meta-Analysis of National and Subnational Elections

Electoral Studies, 42(June), s. 264- 275. Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2016.03.005 - Full text in research archive

Hassan, Mamdouh & Geys, Benny (2016)

Expectations, Realizations, and Approval of Tablet Computers in an Educational Setting

Journal of educational change, 17(2), s. 171- 190. Doi: 10.1007/s10833-015-9270-4 - Full text in research archive

Hassan, Mamdouh & Geys, Benny (2016)

Who Should Pick up the Bill? Distributing the Financial Burden of Technological Innovations in Schools

Computers & Education, 94, s. 193- 203. Doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2015.11.018 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2016)

The Limits of Electoral Control: Evidence from Last-Term Politicians

Legislative Studies Quarterly, 41(4), s. 873- 898. Doi: 10.1111/lsq.12136 - Full text in research archive

Daniele, Gianmarco & Geys, Benny (2016)

Family Ties and Socio-Economic Outcomes in High vs Low Income Countries

Journal of Development Studies, 52(6), s. 813- 823. Doi: 10.1080/00220388.2015.1098630 - Full text in research archive

Exbrayat, Nelly & Geys, Benny (2016)

Economic Integration, Corporate Tax Incidence and Fiscal Compensation

The World Economy, 39(11), s. 1792- 1811. Doi: 10.1111/twec.12323 - Full text in research archive

Trondal, Jarle; Murdoch, Zuzana & Geys, Benny (2015)

On Trojan Horses and revolving doors: Assessing the autonomy of national officials in the European Commission

European Journal of Political Research, 54(2), s. 249- 270. Doi: 10.1111/1475-6765.12080 - Full text in research archive

National officials working in international bureaucracies regularly invoke the fear that member states strategically use such officials for influencing decision making and agenda-setting to their advantage. This article theoretically analyses conditions under which the autonomy of national civil servants in international bureaucracies might become compromised. The ensuing predictions are then tested using a unique survey among seconded national experts (SNEs) in the European Commission (N ≈ 400). Finally, evaluating the characteristics linked to reduced autonomy among SNEs in the Commission, the article illustrates that these officials are, in practice, likely to be relatively independent from member state influence.

Asatryan, Zareh; Feld, Lars P. & Geys, Benny (2015)

Partial Fiscal Decentralization and Subnational Government Fiscal Discipline: Empirical Evidence from OECD Countries

Public Choice, 163(3-4), s. 307- 320. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-015-0250-2 - Full text in research archive

Daniele, Gianmarco & Geys, Benny (2015)

Interpersonal Trust and Welfare State Support

European Journal of Political Economy, 39, s. 1- 12. Doi: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2015.03.005

Daniele, Gianmarco & Geys, Benny (2015)

Public support for European fiscal integration in times of crisis

Journal of European Public Policy, 22(5), s. 650- 670. Doi: 10.1080/13501763.2014.988639 - Full text in research archive

Trondal, Jarle; Murdoch, Zuzana & Geys, Benny (2015)

Representative Bureaucracy and the Role of Expertise in Politics

Politics and Governance, 3(1), s. 26- 36. Doi: 10.17645/pag.v3i1.65 - Full text in research archive

Daniele, Gianmarco & Geys, Benny (2015)

Organized Crime, Institutions and Political Quality: Empirical Evidence from Italian Municipalities

Economic Journal, 125(586), s. F233- F255. Doi: 10.1111/ecoj.12237 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny (2015)

Looks Good, You're Hired? Evidence from Extra-Parliamentary Activities of German Parliamentarians

The German Economic Review, 16(1), s. 1- 12. Doi: 10.1111/geer.12041

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2014)


Backhaus, Jûrgen Georg (red.). Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

Murdoch, Zuzana & Geys, Benny (2014)

Institutional dynamics in international organisations: Lessons from the recruitment procedures of the European External Action Service

Organization Studies, 35(12), s. 1793- 1811. Doi: 10.1177/0170840614544558 - Full text in research archive

De Witte, Kristof; Geys, Benny & Solondz, Catharina (2014)

Public Expenditures, Educational Outcomes and Grade Inflation: Theory and Evidence from a Policy Intervention in the Netherlands

Economics of Education Review, 40, s. 152- 166. Doi: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2014.02.003

Ashworth, John; Geys, Benny, Heyndels, Bruno & Wille, Fanny (2014)

Competition in the political arena and local government performance

Applied Economics, 46(19), s. 2264- 2276. Doi: 10.1080/00036846.2014.899679

Geys, Benny (2014)

Better Not Look Too Nice? Employees’ Preferences Towards (Un)Likeable Managers

Leadership Quarterly, 25(5), s. 875- 884. Doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2014.02.001 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Vermeir, Jan (2014)

Party Cues in Elections under Multi-Level Governance: Theory and Evidence from US States

Journal of the European Economic Association, 12(4), s. 1029- 1058. Doi: 10.1111/jeea.12081 - Full text in research archive

Exbrayat, Nelly & Geys, Benny (2014)

Trade integration and corporate income tax differentials: theory and evidence from OECD countries

International Tax and Public Finance, 21(2), s. 298- 323. Doi: 10.1007/s10797-013-9270-3

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2014)

Are Female Legislators Different? Exploring Sex Differences in German MPs’ Outside Interests

Parliamentary Affairs, 67(4), s. 841- 865. Doi: 10.1093/pa/gss090 - Full text in research archive

Michelsen, Claus; Geys, Benny & Boenisch, Peter (2014)

(De)Centralization and voter turnout: Theory and evidence from German municipalities

Public Choice, 159(3-4), s. 469- 483. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-013-0061-2

Geys, Benny & Osterloh, Steffen (2013)

Borders as boundaries to fiscal policy interactions? An empirical analysis of politicians' opinions on rivals in the competition for firms

Journal of Regional Science, 53(4), s. 583- 606. Doi: 10.1111/jors.12029

Geys, Benny; Heinemann, Friedrich & Kalb, Alexander (2013)

Local Government Efficiency in German Municipalities

Raumforschung und Raumordnung, 71(4), s. 283- 293.

De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny (2013)

Citizen coproduction and efficient public good provision: Theory and evidence from local public libraries

European Journal of Operational Research, 224(3), s. 592- 602. Doi: 10.1016/j.ejor.2012.09.002

Geys, Benny (2013)

Election Cycles in MPs' Outside Interests? The UK House of Commons, 2005-2010

Political Studies, 61(2), s. 462- 472. Doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2012.00956.x

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2013)

Moonlighting Politicians: A Survey and Research Agenda

Journal of Legislative Studies, 19(1), s. 76- 97. Doi: 10.1080/13572334.2013.737158

Geys, Benny (2012)

Limitations of the KISS Principle and a Strong Organisational Society: A Rejoinder to Wollebaek and Selle

Journal of Civil Society, 8(2), s. 201- 206. Doi: 10.1080/17448689.2012.686753

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2012)

Delegation, Accountability and Legislator Moonlighting: Agency Problems in Germany

German Politics, 21(3), s. 255- 273. Doi: 10.1080/09644008.2012.716040

Ben-Bassat, Avi; Dahan, Momi, Geys, Benny & Klor, Esteban F. (2012)

The Impact of the Economic Costs of Conflict on Individuals’ Political Attitudes

Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, 18(2) Doi: 10.1515/1554-8597.1256

Geys, Benny & Murdoch, Zuzana (2012)

Instrumental Calculation, Cognitive Role-Playing, or Both? Self-Perceptions of Seconded National Experts in the European Commission

Journal of European Public Policy, 19(9), s. 1357- 1376. Doi: 10.1080/13501763.2012.677186

Geys, Benny (2012)

Success and Failure in Electoral Competition: Selective Issue Emphasis under Incomplete Issue Ownership

Electoral Studies, 31(2), s. 406- 412. Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2012.01.005

Geys, Benny (2012)

Association Membership and Generalised Trust: Are Connections Between Associations Losing their Value?

Journal of Civil Society, 8(1), s. 1- 15. Doi: 10.1080/17448689.2012.665646

Griesshaber, Nicolas & Geys, Benny (2012)

Civic Engagement and Corruption in 20 European Democracies

European Societies: The Official Journal of the European Sociological Association, 14(1), s. 57- 81. Doi: 10.1080/14616696.2011.638084

Qari, Salmai; Konrad, Kai A. & Geys, Benny (2012)

Patriotism, taxation and international mobility

Public Choice, 151(3-4), s. 695- 717. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-011-9765-3

Kalb, Alexander; Geys, Benny & Heinemann, Friedrich (2012)

Value for money? German local government efficiency in a comparative perspective

Applied Economics, 44(2), s. 201- 218. Doi: 10.1080/00036846.2010.502110

Geys, Benny & Revelli, Federico (2011)

Economic and political foundations of local tax structures: an empirical investigation of the tax mix of Flemish municipalities

Environment and Planning. C, Government and Policy, 29(3), s. 410- 427. Doi: 10.1068/c10116r

De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny (2011)

Evaluating efficient public good provision: Theory and evidence from a generalised conditional efficiency model for public libraries

Journal of Urban Economics, 69(3), s. 319- 327. Doi: 10.1016/j.jue.2010.12.002

Geys, Benny & Konrad, Kai A. (2010)

Federalism and optimal allocation across levels of governance

Enderlein, Henrik; Wälti, Sonja & Michael, Zürn (red.). Handbook on Multi-Level Governance

Geys, Benny & Murdoch, Zuzana (2010)

Measuring the 'Bridging' versus 'Bonding' Nature of Social Networks: A Proposal for Integrating Existing Measures

Sociology, 44(3), s. 523- 540. Doi: 10.1177/0038038510362474

Recent research illustrates that two distinct interpretations and operationalizations of ?bridging? and ?bonding? social networks co-exist in the literature (based on links between diverse networks or between socio-economic groups within a given network, respectively), and that these do not coincide in empirical applications. The present contribution first confirms this conclusion using data from the United Kingdom. Then, we suggest a simple way to integrate both existing approaches into a more general measure of bridging and bonding. Applying this more general index to UK and Flemish data, a) provides stronger empirical support for the idea that memberships in bridging groups are more strongly linked to positive civic values than those in bonding ones, and b) shows that the extended index behaves more consistently across institutional settings (i.e. Flanders and the UK) than both underlying measures independently

Geys, Benny & Murdoch, Zuzana (2008)

How to make head or tail of ‘bridging’ and ‘bonding’?: addressing the methodological ambiguity

British Journal of Sociology, 59(3), s. 435- 454.

Geys, Benny & Leiren, Merethe Dotterud (1)

How can the stigma of public transport as the 'poor man's vehicle' be overcome to enhance sustainability and climate change mitigation

Natural resources forum (Print) [Kronikk]

Academic Degrees
Year Academic Department Degree
2004 Vrije Universiteit Brussel Ph.D Dr. Oecon.
2000 Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) Master of Science
Work Experience
Year Employer Job Title
2015 - Present BI Norwegian Business School Professor in Economics
2010 - Present Vrije Universiteit Brussels Research Professor
2010 - 2015 BI Norwegian Business School Associate Professor
2005 - 2010 WZB Berlin Senior research fellow