The Foundation of the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics

On November 28, 1974, the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics is founded at the ZiF, becoming the University’s eight faculty. At the same time, 138 students begin their studies in economics under somewhat unusual circumstances. While the Faculty, including the library, moves into rooms in Rheda Castle, the courses take place in the “Oberstufen-Kolleg” (sixth-form college).

Presentation of the endowed professorship “Führung von Familienunternehmen” (“Family Business Governance”): Professor Dr. Fred G. Becker (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics), Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer (Rektor of Bielefeld University), Ortwin Goldbeck (IHK President) and Thomas Niehoff (IHK Managing Director) (from left to right).

Photo: Norma Langohr
Source: Universität Bielefeld

In the founding committees, the subject of economics was represented by the Bonn economists Professor Dr. Wilhelm Krelle, later chairman of the faculty commission, and Professor Dr. Horst Albach. However, the financial conditions and the unfinished state of the building meant that the faculties of the second stage of the University expansion were in troubled waters from the start. Efforts to establish the Faculty were hindered by a shortage of resources as well as a lack of available space to house the Faculty and Center for Mathematical Research (IMW), at least until completion of building works. In 1973, however, a commission headed by Professor Dr. Alois Wenig succeeded in paving the way for a faculty equipped with the necessary human and material resources. With the Faculty’s move into the main university building in 1976, its development was finally on the upswing.

Theory and practice

From the very beginning, the Faculty was characterised by primarily mathematical and theory-based economics, strongly engaged in research. This approach made it possible for the Faculty to work closely with the IMW. This institute was also initially housed at Rheda, where it conducted high-level research on game theory to the highest standards, yet with few scientists, including the later Nobel Prize winner Professor Dr. Reinhard Selten. Business administration, which was only added in 1979/80, proved itself strong in research on companies from the very start. This continued engagement is evidenced not least by the endowed professorship “Führung von Familienunternehmen” (“Family Business Governance”), established in 2014 in close cooperation with leading East Westphalian companies.

Professor Leonid Hurwicz is awarded the honorary doctoral degree at the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics (centre) in the presence of Professor Dr. Reinhard Selten (l.) and Walter Trockel, head of IMW (r.) on 3 December 2004.

Photo: Norma Langohr
Source: Universität Bielefeld

Close to the Nobel Prize

Moreover, the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics displayed a keen sense for research achievements worthy of a Nobel Prize with two of its previous four conferred honorary doctorates. Reinhard Selten, Professor at the University from 1972 to 1988 and member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the ZiF until 2015, and Professor Leonid Hurwicz were appointed honorary doctors of the Faculty a few years before they were recognised by the Nobel Prize Committee.