Valentin Seidler

I am a development economist and an economic historian. I am currently an Erwin Schröding Fellow at the University of Vienna and a Resident Fellow at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society. 

My academic career started in 2011 when I received my PhD at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Wien). Before that I worked for ten years with the International Red Cross in over a dozen countries in Africa, Asia, Central Europe and in Brussels.

My research focuses on the central problem of why economic reforms have often failed in developing countries in the 20th century and today. I address this question by looking into the role of local bureaucrats and international advisors who often lack expertise and training in implementing complex policies derived from practices in the industrialized world. As a researcher I have worked in Princeton, Warwick (UK), Groningen (Netherlands) and Vienna. 

I am currently interested in how individual actors have shaped the course of history. To estimate the effects of  colonial bureaucrats on post-independence development I use an entirely new dataset of over 14,000 British colonial officers which I have assembled during my stay

Recently I teamed up with students (History Department, University of Vienna) to systematically interview remaining colonial officers still alive today. We wanted to find out in which context colonial officers worked and what exactly they did to prepare the colonies for independence. Until mid 2018, project VOICES has recorded the personal histories of over 100 former colonial officers. We have also collected rich biographical material with the aim to publish it in a digital humanities project.

Feel free get involved with ASNIE, an Austrian platform for scholars and students interested in institutions and development!