Economic and engineering analysis of the role of the rule-setting associations in the German water and waste water sector

Norms and technical rules are essential for well-functioning water supply and waste water disposal. By definition they are established in consensus-based processes beneficial to the general public. Ensuring consensus between all interested parties is, however, by no means a trivial exercise. It is rather characterised by information asymmetries and conflict of objectives.

In view of this, the main focus of the project is, therefore, the study of setting standards and technical rules between the poles of effectiveness and efficiency. We aim to analyse the status-quo in the German sectors of waste water disposal and to a lesser extent water supply, in order to derive recommendations on standardisation and rule setting activities.

To this end taking into account the special role of the technical-scientific associations incentives and incentive effects of the current standardisation scheme are to be scrutinised and possible modifications are to be analysed. Especially the methods of new institutional economics and game theory will be applied.

The theoretical analyses and results are to be correlated directly with questions and topics of practical relevance at any point in time. These include amongst others:

  • What is the purpose of standards and technical rules? From a technical point of view? From an economic perspective?
  • Under which circumstances is standardisation sensible?
  • At which level should standards be embedded? At the national level? The European level? An international level?
  • How should responsibilities be allocated?
  • How should standardisation committees be composed?
  • How should communication and information channels be shaped and organised? How much transparency is optimal?
  • How should effectiveness and efficiency be weighted in the standardisation process?
  • Is it possible to improve standardisation from a technical and/or an economic perspective on the grounds of experiences in other countries?

Due to the composition of the project/supervisor team it is ensured that expertise in water economics, engineering as well as in economic theory and methodology are combined with first-hand practical experience.


  • PhD student: Claudia Freimuth
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Mark Oelmann (HRW, Economics)
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Erwin Amann (UDE, Microeconomics)
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr.-Eng. Andr√© Niemann (UDE, Engineering)
  • Mentor: Bauass. Dipl.-Eng. Johannes Lohaus (Managing Director DWA)