Recent Publications

MingMing Dai
Leo Van Hove

The influence of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) on consumers’ online purchase decisions is well-documented. However, little is known about the impact of customer images, a recent form of eWOM. The present paper reports on an exploratory survey among 215 young users of the Chinese C2C shopping Web site The idea was to test whether the so-called information adoption model — and in particular a variant used in earlier research on an online consumer community — could be transposed to the case of customer images. We find that the perceived quality of customer images — and in particular their ‘comprehensiveness’ — has a significant positive impact on purchase intention. This suggests that shopping sites should encourage customers to share high-quality customer images. From a methodological perspective, the limited reliability of two of the quality dimensions (namely ‘relevance’ and ‘timeliness’) catches the eye. This suggests that there is a need for a dedicated theoretical framework and for scales that take into account the specific nature of customer images. Simply transposing scales that have been validated for other forms of eWOM would not appear to be the best approach.

Read the article >>>

Italy is the main gate of entry for undocumented migration to the EU which seriously stresses local reception capacity. Secondary movements of migrants to other member states have become a salient issue challenging the border free Schengen area. The EU has been responsive to this situation, introducing ‘hotspots’ and a relocation mechanism that are meant to support local authorities. The policy brief asks whether EU measures can effectively foster migration management in Italy and decrease migrant absconding. Our research on the implementation of EU hotspots in Sicily, the relocation mechanism, and the asylum system in Italy shows that the effectiveness of support measures is limited also because of issues related to policy design and compliance. Tackling the issue of absconding we suggest a double strategy for Italy: building capacity for migrant reception as well as the asylum infrastructure while enforcing the Dublin regulation in a ‘spirit of solidarity’. 

David Bounie
Abel François
Leo Van Hove

The two-sided market theory holds that consumer adoption and merchant acceptance of payment cards are interdependent. However, empirical evidence on such network externalities is scarce, especially for the merchant side. This paper addresses this issue by examining merchant card acceptance in France. We exploit shopping diary data to construct a novel and fine-grained measure of French consumers’ payment preferences and match these with data from a nation-wide merchant survey. Controlling for (among other factors) cost, degree of competition, and customer characteristics, we find that the higher the probability that the average basket of a merchant is paid for by card in shops in the same sector and region, the higher the probability that the merchant will accept cards. In other words, we find that consumer preferences drive merchant card acceptance, which underpins the existence of network externalities on the merchant side of the payment card market.



Tomas Wyns

On September 18, 2017, a few days after it was flagged by President Juncker in his State of the Union

address to the European Parliament, the European Commission formally launched its

communication on “Investing in a smart, innovative and sustainable Industry - A renewed EU

Industrial Policy Strategy.” Although understandably broad in scope, the communication

incorporates deep decarbonisation consistent with the Paris Agreement objective of net zero

emissions by mid-century as a central goal; and in doing this, it emphasises the economic

opportunity and need for innovation arising from this, both of which are a reflection of the new

agenda for climate action globally. From an economic and social perspective, the question for the

EU is how best to win the clean industrial ‘race to the top’ that has now been launched and is

accelerating– and what policies are necessary for this for the EU to succeed.

The Commission communication is relatively weak in that respect; it provides an overview of current

initiatives, but does not set out a further agenda on a process that is also a central component of

the ‘Future of Europe’, and one that will need to be fully addressed within that broader debate too.

It nonetheless provides a useful starting point for this reflection and debate about how to develop

and implement a transformative industrial decarbonisation strategy for 2050 that is fully integrated

in a wider economic transformation.

Since its inception in 2015, i24c has, together with the Institute for European Studies at the Vrije

Universiteit Brussel, been investigating and considering what an industrial strategy for Europe

would have to contain – and indeed calling for the development of just such a strategy. It is within

this context that this working paper, “A mapping of EU Industrial and Innovation policy”, assesses

the developments in EU industrial and innovation policy since the beginning of the 21st century, up

until today.

Our objective in undertaking this mapping is to better understand the state of play of EU industrial

and innovation policy. The paper provides a high-level inventory of EU initiatives and identifies the

number and type of activities, the institutional responsibilities, their governance and evolution over

time. The working paper concludes that in the last decade EU industrial policy has been relatively

consistent, but that there are further options for greater ambition, and streamlining of policy

initiatives and possibilities of synergies between EU and member state initiatives to fully enable the

industrial transition towards a net-zero economy in 2050.

Richard Higgott
Neil Collins
Kristina Bekenova
September 2017
working paper
Joren Selleslaghs

The European Union (EU) has adopted a very generous region-to-region approach towards Latin America in recent decades. However, although the EU adopted the same interregional strategy across different policy areas, the quality of interregional interaction (and success) vary significantly. A telling example is the EU’s interregional approach to sign a far-reaching region-to-region association agreement with Latin America: instead of having one overarching EU-LAC agreement, the EU had to negotiate agreements with sub-regions in Latin America, and eventually only successfully concluded an Association Agreement with the Central American region (SICA) as negotiations with MERCOSUR have only recently been re-launched after a deadlock of six years and negotiations with the Andean region failed permanently, leading the EU to conclude bilateral association agreements with several Andean states instead. Another interesting case of EU-driven interregionalism is the case of EU-Latin America science diplomacy. In this policy area, it seems that the EU’s interregional approach has been particularly successful, as both regions continuously call for the creation and strengthening of a “Common Area for Higher Education, Research and Technology” and various high-level working groups and action plans have been established to achieve this end. Yet, in contrast to the considerable scholarly attention for understanding the success/failure of EU-driven economic interregionalism, a critical assessment of EU-Latin America interregional cooperation in the field of science, higher education and innovation has not been produced to date. This paper aims to fill this notable academic (and policy-making) gap by providing a thorough overview of (1) the EU’s drivers behind this particular foreign policy action and the chosen interregional approach; (2) the applied policy instruments and actions of this specific case of EU-Latin American interregional relations; and (3) achieved impact of this specific case of EU-Latin American interregional relations.

Annamarie Bindenagel Šehović

Since the International Sanitary Regulations were adopted in 1851, the twin issues of international and global and health security have been on the international diplomatic agenda. States and increasingly non-state-actors (NSAs) have engaged with one another through traditional as well as newer forms of diplomacy in order to stem the tide of various initially infectious diseases, from cholera to HIV and AIDS to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This diplomacy wrought the International Health Regulations (IHRs) of 1969, updated in 2005 (2007), as well as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.  A Framework Convention for Global Health, focusing on universal health coverage (UHC) is being negotiated. At this juncture, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and, among others, the U.S. National Security Council, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the German Foreign Office (AA), have also raised the profile of and established health security desks, further propelling health to the heights of the diplomatic agenda.

Newly, or newly re-emerging diseases present the latest health security challenges to be addressed by health diplomacy. The urgency of responding to these challenges is increasing as population movements and (always) fluid borders raise the attendant questions of how to secure the health of both mobile and sedentary populations. Movement implies both transfer and exchange, not only of people, but also of knowledge. This Policy Paper first traces such transfer to identify whether it is one-way or multi-directional. Second, it bases its results on primary-source findings from recent fieldwork in South Africa, drawing on policy, culture, science and industry transfers and / or exchange. Third and finally, and with a view towards both the independent role of the EU and its place within the G20, the Paper articulates a number of proposals to enhance knowledge exchange in the service of international health diplomacy for global health security.

Sibel Aydogan
Leo Van Hove

This paper examines the usage of internet banking by individuals, and does so from the perspective of technology acceptance theories. Previous studies have shown that both perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use are important drivers of the adoption of internet banking. Only a few studies examine the drivers of internet banking usage. We have primary data on the self reported behaviour of 725 respondents in Flanders, and by means of ordered logit regressions we analyse what factors determine whether someone is a nonuser, a ‘regular’ user, or an ‘intensive’ user of internet banking. Our findings confirm that perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use are also crucial determinants of internet banking usage. In addition, we find that perceived credibility of the internet banking application as well as several socio demographic variables – age, occupation, relational status, and income – have an impact.

Determinants of internet banking usage: survey evidence for Belgium. Available from: 

Nicolas Rüffin
Ulrich Schreiterer
  • Both practitioners and scholars tend to regard Science and Technology Agreements (STA) to be important, prominent, and highly effective tools for science diplomacy (SD). Yet it is far from clear whether they form an integral part of strategic approaches toward SD or mostly remain rather erratic ad-hoc agreements with more probably vague or even insignificant roles. Since we know but little about the development of STA over time, it is very difficult to get data and a valid picture on what is going on there at all and what impact STA might have.
  • Based on a working definition of STA, we conducted a quantitative study to map the STA that six countries (DK, FR, DE, CH, UK, U.S.) and the European Union have signed between 1961 and 2016. In addition, through a range of expert interviews, we tried to capture practitioners’ views on the role and workings of STA in the realms of international science policy and SD in particular.
  • What we see is a large increase in the number of concluded STA over time. While some of the countries in our sample made extensive use of STA, others were more hesitant or even reluctant to do so. Still, we witness a strong integration of G20-states in a network of bilateral STA. To illustrate the highly diverse uses and importance of STA, we present four cases of negotiations that point to their limited strategic use. From our expert interviews, we could differentiate between four types of views or opinions with regard to the uses of STA.
  • If we view STA in their respective political context, some apparently erratic provisions turn into meaningful strategic instruments. Overall, STA may carry different meanings to different stakeholders engaged in the negotiations; this is why they always serve as boundary objects.
  • For future research, it would be worthwhile to look into the interconnections, or interplays, between STA and other tools of SD on the one hand and contextual variables like geopolitical shifts and organisational backgrounds that shape negotiations and appraisal of STA on the other.