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At Lucerne University for Applied Sciences and Arts

Associate Professor for Economics

In my teaching, it is important to me to present different theories and perspectives, in order to enable the students to develop their own point of view.

I specialize in comparing standard economics with alternative theories.

My functions at the university

I have been teaching at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences since 2012 and am currently giving the following lectures and seminars:


Teaching economics differently

Introduction to economics - heterodox perspectives
In the introductory course for master’s students, we confront the perspective of standard economics (neoclassical theory) with alternative traditions of thought.
Economic sociology
To ensure that this introduction does not remain too dry for non-specialist students, the second part of the module takes place in Eastern Europe, where the students conduct a short empirical research.
Underground Economics
In this cross-faculty seminar, we ask how we can actively shape our economy and discuss alternative economic models.
All About Economy Film Days
Film is a suitable medium for economics education. In the dialogue with Eastern European lecturers and students, we discuss documentaries and feature films on the topics of economics and business. Three editions take place per year, alternately in Gdansk, Bucharest, Kiev and Sofia. Project website: economy-filmdays.info


Business success abroad

Eastern Europe - our unknown neighbors
Three times a year, I organize educational tours to Eastern European countries and examine the opportunities and challenges of the local economy. Project website: summer-school-eastern-europa.info
Methods and indicators for evaluating business locations
The objective of the course is to acquire a critical attitude towards economic indicators – this helps to avoid drawing wrong conclusions and take erroneous entrepreneurial decisions.
Global Enterprise & Commercial Offences
I will conduct this new module on the cultural and legal challenges that internationalizing Swiss companies have to face in less developed countries: insecure property rights and contractual rights make it necessary to develop alternative business strategies.


Past lectures 

Where I learned the craft of didactics
  • 2013-2019    Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – Social Work: Introduction to Economics
  • 2015-2019    Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – Social Work: Labor Society, Labor Market and Unemployment
  • 2011-2014    Fernfachhochschule Schweiz: Personnel Management and Knowledge Management
  • 2011-2012    Berne University of Applied Sciences: Introduction to Accountancy (in French language)
  • 2009-2011    Business School Lenzburg: Business, Economics, Commercial Law, Civic Education
  • 1992-1993    Gelterkinden Secondary School, Liestal High School: History, German, Foreign languages

My related publications 

  • Ways to reform business education
  • My research topic ‘dealing of Swiss companies with corruption abroad’
  • I comment on current political issues

Publication list by Michael Derrer

Current publications:

Academic interests
Plural economics
In contrast to the other social sciences, in economics, there are few alternative theories that are taught. Thanks to the pool of knowledge and concepts of “alternative” thinkers of the past and present, we broaden our horizons and the ability to think independently.
Market economy instead of capitalism
The search for an economic system that includes the advantages of a market economy but avoids the negative aspects of real-existing capitalism can be found in different traditions of thought. I find the following particularly productive:

  • Ordoliberalism and Distributism. The aim is to spread property more equally and ensure a level-playing field for SMEs.
  • Taxation of “unearned” (effortless) income instead of taxes on work and entrepreneurial success, e.g. through a land tax according to Henry George, an inheritance tax on large assets or a microfinance tax
  • Monetary reform approaches from Silvio Gesell to Joseph Huber and Positive Money
Economic sociology and institutional economics
The use of a social science methodology allows to observe how the economy actually works. Values, traditions and ideas play a much larger role than standard economics suggests. This is also of practical relevance: Swiss companies can only be successful abroad with an understanding of the specific values and norms of the respective society and the use of targeted intercultural communication.
Corruption analysis
Outside of the Western world, Swiss SMEs are inevitably confronted with phenomena of corruption. How do they deal with this situation, which is unusual for them – also in view of the Swiss criminal law, which makes corruption abroad a criminal offense? My research project studies systemic corruption in Russia and Ukraine using economic sociological analysis.
Valuation of goods that are difficult to value
Today, value is created primarily through knowledge. But knowledge is nowhere to be found in the balance sheet. Is it possible to assign an objective value to this knowledge? For the Federal Parliament, I designed and carried out the study “Compensation and Infrastructure for Members of Parliament”, in which the work of parliamentarians was assessed, in order to create the basis for their adequate compensation.
Constructivist education in economics
Constructivism deals with the way, in which people theorize facts and form models, and how these models in turn influence people’s behavior. For teaching, this means enabling students to deal with models, to question them and also to create their own models. However, economics education still consists primarily of the passive adoption of models that are assumed to represent a supposedly objective reality. In order to implement my approach, I am working on the textbook “Wirtschaft im Widerspruch” (Conflicting views on the economy), in which different perspectives on the economy are confronted – with an open outcome.
Study background
BA Political Sciences, University of Lausanne

The study program consisted of courses in political science, sociology, contemporary history and economics. The main focus of my studies was on

  • History of economic and sociological theory (Karl Polanyj, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, Pierre Bourdieu)
  • Discourse analysis (early socialism; real socialism; nationalist discourse; ethnic discourse; liberalism)
  • Foreign economic policy and international financial organizations
  • Political parties between interests, ideology and organizational dynamics

The many research papers to write during this study program led me towards independent research, interdisciplinarity and a scientific, unbiased attitude.

Master of Advanced Studies in Public Policy Management and Analysis, University of Geneva

The focus of this second degree at the Faculty of Economics was on the role of the state in the economy and in the application of modern management methods to public administration. I wrote my thesis on the role of the state in promoting lifelong learning.

Teaching diploma in economics and law, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland

Theoretical and practical didactic training, with a pedagogical foundation, supplemented by additional specialist studies in private law and applied accounting. I wrote my independent work about the “constructivism” approach in business education.

Studies abroad

I studied in Bucharest in 1992, and in 1996 I was the first western student at MGIMO (Moscow State Institute for International Relations), the training center for the Soviet and today the Russian diplomats.