Robert J. Flanagan

Robert Joseph Flanagan
Professor Emeritus, Economics
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Research Statement

Professor Flanagan has written extensively on micro and macro issues in cultural economics, comparative labor economics, and human resource management. His current research interests include the economics of performing arts organizations, and he has recently completed a study of the economic issues facing symphony orchestras (The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras: Artistic Triumphs and Economic Challenges (Yale University Press, 2012)). His other research interests include the effects of globalization on labor conditions and human resource management.

Research Interests

  • Labor markets
  • Economics of the performing arts
  • Collective bargaining
  • Labor regulation
  • Comparative labor market institutions


Robert J. Flanagan is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of International Labor Economics and Policy Analysis, Emeritus, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He holds a BA in Economics from Yale University, and MA and PhD degrees in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Flanagan has published 12 books and over 50 articles on labor economics, cultural economics, and human resource management. He has also served on the editorial boards of several professional journals.

His research interests include the economics of performing arts organizations, global labor markets, and the impact of collective bargaining institutions on economic performance. His most recent book analyzes the economics of symphony orchestras. A previous book examined the effects of globalization on working conditions and labor rights around the world.

Professor Flanagan has taught microeconomics, macroeconomics, public sector economics, and a variety of electives on topics in human resource management in the MBA and Sloan Programs. He has served as Associate Dean of the GSB and Director of the Public Management program.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Economics, UC Berkeley, 1970
  • MA in Economics, UC Berkeley, 1966
  • BA in Economics, Yale University, 1963

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 1975
  • Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Stanford University, 1996-1999
  • GSB Faculty Fellow, Stanford University, 1992-1993
  • Business School Trust Faculty Fellow, Stanford University, 1991-1992, 200-2001
  • Visiting Fellow, Tinbergen Institute, University of Amsterdam, 2004
  • Fellow, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, 1991, 2009
  • Visiting Professor, The Australian National University, 1990, 2000
  • Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution, 1984
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley, 1973-1974
  • Assistant Professor, University of Chicago, 1969-75

Professional Experience

  • Visiting Scholar, International Monetary Fund, 1994
  • Visiting Scholar, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1988
  • Senior Staff Economist, Council of Economic Advisors, 1978-1979
  • Economist, U.S. Department of Labor, 1963-1964


Journal Articles

Robert J. Flanagan. Journal of Economic Literature. 1999, Vol. 37, Issue 3, Pages 1150-1175.
Robert J. Flanagan. Labour Economics. Washington DC: The Brookings Institution, September 1998, Vol. 5, Pages 295-312.
Robert J. Flanagan. Journal of Labor Economics. 1989, Vol. 7, Issue 3, Pages 257-280.


Robert J. Flanagan Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institutions, 1987.
Robert J. Flanagan, David Soskice, Lloyd Ulman Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1983.

Book Chapters

Robert J. Flanagan. C. Brown, B. Eichengren, and M. Reich (eds) Labor in the Era of Globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Service to the Profession


  • American Economic Association
  • Society of Labor Economists

Insights by Stanford Business

February 8, 2012
In a new book, Professor Robert Flanagan tells why symphony orchestras need multiple strategies to keep their finances from ballooning out of control.
March 1, 2008
A scholar's research suggests that a best-practices review including cost-cutting measures would help.
May 1, 2002
A new study dispels the idea that having the lowest labor standards provides competitive advantages in the global economy.