Prof. Dr. Christian Cordes

Foto Prof. Dr. Christian Cordes

Professor "Evolutionary Economics"


Max-von-Laue-Straße 1
28359 Bremen
Building WIWI 2, Room F 2130

Phone: +49 (0)421 218-666-16


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Personal details

Professor Dr. Christian Cordes has been Professor of Economics in Bremen since 2011. He is the head of the working group "Evolutionary Economics".

His main areas of research are:

  • The biological and psychological foundations of economic behavior – a naturalistic approach to economics.
  • The evolution of business cultures, socialization processes in organizations, and governance structures of multinational enterprises.
  • The determinants of human behavior in organizational contexts and industry evolution.
  • Preference learning and the transition toward a sustainable economy.
  • An evolutionary perspective on economic policy making and normative aspects.


Curriculum Vitae

  • 1992-1998: Studies in Economics at Hannover University. 1998: Diplom-Ökonom (M.A. in Economics) at Hannover
  • 1998-2010: Research Associate, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena
  • 2003: PhD in Economics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena
  • 2004: Guest Researcher at the Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition (CRIC) at the University of Manchester
  • 2005-2006: Visiting Scholar at the University of California at Davis, Department of Environmental Science and Policy
  • 2009: Habilitation in Economics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena
  • 2009: Privatdozent, Friedrich Schiller University Jena
  • 2010: Visiting Professor at the University of Bremen
  • 2011: Research Group Leader (W2) at the Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena
    Faculty Member, DFG Research Training Group 1411: Economics of Innovative Change
  • 2011: Professor of Economics, Working Group in Evolutionary Economics, University of Bremen


Projects in Progress

“Green Nudging – A Cultural Evolution Model on Its Long-Term Effectiveness”, in preparation for submission, 2022, pp. 1-31 (together with Joshua Henkel).

“Socialization in Organizations: The Impact of Digitalization”, Manuscript, 2022, (together with Sarianna M. Lundan and Stephan Müller).

“Learning to Be Happy: Emotional Health and Cultural Transmission”, Manuscript, 2022 (together with Torben Klarl).

“Cultural Distance and Evolving Hierarchies”, Manuscript, 2022 (together with Sarianna M. Lundan and Stephan Müller).


Publications in Refereed Journals


“Governance Structures, Cultural Distance, and Socialization Dynamics: Further Challenges for the Modern Corporation”, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2022, pp. 371-397 (together with Stephan Müller, Georg Schwesinger, and Sarianna M. Lundan).


 “The Collapse of Cooperation: The Endogeneity of Institutional Break-Up and its Asymmetry With Emergence”, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Vol. 31, No. 4, 2021, pp. 1291–1315 (together with Wolfram Elsner, Claudius Gräbner, Torsten Heinrich, Joshua Henkel, Henning Schwardt, Georg Schwesinger, and Tong-Yaa Su).


“The Promises of a Naturalistic Approach: How Cultural Evolution Theory Can Inform (Evolutionary) Economics”, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Vol. 29, No. 4, 2019, pp. 1241-1262.

“A Critical Human Group Size and Firm Size Distributions in Industries”, Journal of Bioeconomics, Vol. 21, No. 2, 2019, pp. 123-144 (together with Pontus Strimling and Tong-Yaa Su).


“A Corporation’s Culture as an Impetus for Spinoffs and a Driving Force of Industry Evolution”, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Vol. 24, No. 3, 2014, pp. 689-712 (together with P. Richerson and G. Schwesinger).

“Technological Diffusion and Preference Learning in the World of Homo sustinens: The Challenges for Politics”, Ecological Economics, Vol. 97, 2014, pp. 191-200 (together with G. Schwesinger).


“Reply to ‘Modeling the Evolution of Preferences: An Answer to Schubert and Cordes’”, Journal of Institutional Economics, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2013, pp. 349-351 (together with C. Schubert and P. Richerson).

“Role Models that Make You Unhappy: Light Paternalism, Social Learning and Welfare”, Journal of Institutional Economics, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2013, pp. 131-159 (together with C. Schubert).


“How Does Opportunistic Behavior Influence Firm Size? An Evolutionary Approach to Organizational Behavior”, Journal of Institutional Economics, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2011, pp. 1-21 (together with P. Richerson, R. McElreath, and P. Strimling).


“How Corporate Cultures Coevolve with the Business Environment: The Case of Firm Growth Crises and Industry Evolution”, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Vol. 76, No. 3, 2010, pp. 465-480 (together with P. Richerson and G. Schwesinger).


“Changing Your Role Models: Social Learning and the Engel Curve”, Journal of Socio-Economics, Vol. 38, No. 6, 2009, pp. 957-965.

“Long-Term Developments in Human Labor and Their Political Implications”, Review of Economic Philosophy, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2009, pp. 81-108.

“The Role of Biology and Culture in Veblenian Consumption Dynamics”, Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2009, pp. 115-141.


“Can Sustainable Consumption Be Learned? A Model of Cultural Evolution”, Ecological Economics, Vol. 67, No. 4, 2008, pp. 646-657 (together with G. Buenstorf).

“A Naturalistic Approach to the Theory of the Firm: The Role of Cooperation and Cultural Evolution”, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Vol. 68, No. 1, 2008, pp. 125-139 (together with P. Richerson, R. McElreath, and P. Strimling).

“A Potential Limit on Competition”, Journal of Bioeconomics, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2008, pp. 127-144.


“The Role of ‘Instincts’ in the Development of Corporate Cultures”, Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2007, pp. 747-764.

“Toward a Naturalistic Foundation of the Social Contract”, Constitutional Political Economy, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2007, pp. 35-62 (together with C. Schubert).

“Can a Generalized Darwinism Be Criticized? A Rejoinder to Geoffrey Hodgson”, Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2007, pp. 277-281.

“Turning Economics into an Evolutionary Science: Veblen, the Selection Metaphor, and Analogical Thinking“, Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2007, pp. 135-154 (reprinted in: U. Witt (ed.): “Recent Developments in Evolutionary Economics”, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2008).


“Darwinism in Economics: From Analogy to Continuity”, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Vol. 16, No. 5, 2006, pp. 529-541.


“What Orientation for Interpreting Veblen? A Rejoinder to Baldwin Ranson”, Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2005, pp. 1065-1069.

“Long-term Tendencies in Technological Creativity: A Preference-based Approach”, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2005, pp. 149-168.

“Veblen’s ‘Instinct of Workmanship,’ its Cognitive Foundations, and Some Implications for Economic Theory”, Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2005, pp. 1-20.


“The Human Adaptation for Culture and its Behavioral Implications”, Journal of Bioeconomics, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2004, pp. 143-163.


Contributions to Collective Works


“Economic Complexity and Trade-Offs in Policy Decisions”, in: C. Gräbner, T. Heinrich, and H. Schwardt (eds.): Policy Implications of Recent Advances in Evolutionary and Institutional Economics, New York: Routledge, pp. 3-19, 2016 (together with H. Schwardt, C. Gräbner, T. Heinrich, and G. Schwesinger).


“Evolutionary Economics”, in: J. D. Wright (ed.): International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol, 8, pp. 430-436, 2015.


“Emergent Cultural Phenomena and their Cognitive Foundations”, in: G. Bünstorf (ed.): Applied Evolutionary Economics, Behavior and Organizations, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 39-57, 2012.


“Selection, Learning, and Schumpeterian Dynamics – A Conceptual Debate”, in: H. Hanusch and A. Pyka (eds.): The Elgar Companion to Neo-Schumpeterian Economics, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 316-328, 2007 (together with U. Witt).


Other Publications


Review of: Corning, Peter: “Holistic Darwinism”, in: Review of Economic Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 14, 2006, pp. 85-93.


“The Restless Nature of Knowledge and Economic Policy Making”, comment on J. Schnellenbach: „Vielfalt in der Wirtschaftspolitik: Die Dahrendorf-Hypothese aus ökonomischer Sicht“, in: M. Lehmann-Waffenschmidt, A. Ebner, and D. Fornahl (eds.): Institutioneller Wandel, Marktprozesse und dynamische Wirtschaftspolitik: Perspektiven der Evolutorischen Ökonomik, Marburg: Metropolis, 2004.


Review of: Verbeek, Bernhard: „Anthropologie der Umweltzerstörung“, in: F. Beckenbach et al. (eds.): Jahrbuch Ökologische Ökonomik, Band 3, Marburg: Metropolis, 2003.

“An Evolutionary Analysis of Long-term Qualitative Change in Human Labor”, PhD Dissertation, Jena: Friedrich Schiller University, 2003 (library signature JA 00.32).


„Langfristige wirtschaftliche Entwicklung – ein evolutionärer Ansatz“, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Studium, 29 (2000): 711-713 (together with G. Bünstorf, W. Ruprecht, C. Sartorius, and U. Witt).


Editorial Work

Since 2012: Editorial board member of the Journal of Bioeconomics


Other Professional Activities

Since 2022: Member of the editorial board of the Journal of Evolutionary Economics

Since 2015: Member of the Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution, see

Since 2009: Member of the Committee for Evolutionary Economics within the Verein für Socialpolitik


Media Coverage

Interview "Es geht ums nackte Überleben" in the German newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” 17th May 2010:

Download PDF Interview


Interview with the German radio station “Deutschlandfunk” (in German):

“Entrepreneur und Stammesführer – Ein naturalistischer Ansatz zur Theorie der Firma”, Studiozeit, from 19th June 2008.


Interview with arte TV station (in German) 12th May 2018:

“Square Idee: Konkurrenz oder Kooperation?”