Paul R Milgrom

Professor of Economics (by courtesy)

Shirley R. and Leonard W. Ely Jr. Professor of Humanities and Sciences, School of Humanities and Sciences

Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy and Research

Phone: (650) 723-3397


Personal Homepage:

Academic Areas: Economics

Paul Milgrom's primary research is directed to designing auctions for multiple unique but related items. Along with Robert Wilson, he introduced the initial design for sales of radio spectrum licenses in the United States. He has designed new auctions for Internet advertising and for procuring complex services. Research on incentives and complexity are combined to create auctions that are simple and straightforward for bidders, yet which dramatically improve resource allocation compared to traditional auction designs.


Paul Milgrom is the Shirley and Leonard Ely professor of Humanities and Sciences in the department of economics and professor by courtesy at the Graduate School of Business. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and director of the Market Design program at SIEPR.

After earning his PhD at the GSB, Milgrom taught at Northwestern University and Yale before returning to Stanford. He has made well-known contributions to many areas of economics, including auctions, incentive theory, industrial economics, economic history, economics of manufacturing, economics of organizations, and game theory. His book coauthored with John Roberts, Economics, Organization and Management, opened a new area to economic research.

He is best known, however, for his contributions to the theory of auctions, much of which is summarized in his book, Putting Auction Theory to Work, published by Cambridge University Press, and for his contributions to the practice of auction design. According to the National Science Foundation, Milgrom was the main academic contributor to the original FCC spectrum auction design – the simultaneous ascending auction. This design, which Milgrom developed with colleagues Robert Wilson and Preston McAfee, has been copied and adapted for dozens of auctions of radio spectrum, electricity, and natural gas involving hundreds of billion dollars worldwide. Still active in both the theory and practice of auction design, Milgrom has advised Microsoft Networks on sponsored search auctions, Google on its IPO auction of shares, Yahoo! on the design of an advertising marketplace, the Oregon Public Utilities Commission on sales of generating assets, Mexico on privatization auctions of state-owned assets, and various spectrum regulators in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Mexico on sales of radio spectrum.

Academic Degrees

PhD in Business, 1979 Stanford University; MS in Statistics, 1978, Stanford University; MA (Hons.), 1982,Yale University; AB, University of Michigan, 1970

Professional Experience

At Stanford since 1987. Stanford University, Economics Department, Shirley R. and Leonard W. Ely Jr. Professor of Humanities and Sciences (1993-present); Stanford University, Economics Department, Professor of Economics (1987-1993)Yale University, Williams Brothers Professor of Management (1985–87); Yale University, Professor of Management(1983–85); Northwestern University, Assistant Professor and Professor of Economics (1979–83).

Selected Publications

  • Putting Auction Theory to Work : Cambridge University Press, 2004
  • Ascending Auctions witih Package Bidding: Frontiers of Economic Theory, 2002
  • Putting Auction Theory to Work: The Simultaneous Ascending Auction: Journal of Political Economy, April, 2000
  • The LeChatelier Principle: American Economic Review, March, 1996
  • Economics, Organization, and Management: Prentice Hall, 1992
  • Complementarities, Momentum, and the Evolution of Modern Manufacturing: American Economic Review, May, 1991
  • Is Sympathy an Economic Value? Philosophy, Economics and the Contingent Valuation Method in Contingent Valuation: A Critical Assessment: ed. J. Hausman, Elsevier-North Holland, 1993
  • Employment Contracts, Influence Activities, and Efficient Organizational Design: Econometrica, February, 1988
  • A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding: Econometrica, September, 1982
  • The Firm as an Incentive System: American Economic Review, September, 1994

Working Papers

  • 1229: Comparing Equilibria
  • 1181: Organizational Prospects, Influence Costs and Ownership Changes
  • 1032: Rationalizability, Learning and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities
  • 1000: The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Products, Technology and Organization
  • 400: A Convergence Theorem for Competitive Bidding With Differential Information
  • 574: Limit Pricing and Entry Under Incomplete Information: An Equilibrium Analysis
  • 603: Rational Cooperation in the Finitely-Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma
  • 742: Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality
  • 934: Bargaining Costs, Influence Costs and the Organization of Economic Activity

Selected Cases

  • BE9: Johnson Controls, Inc. - Automotive Systems Group: The Georgetown, Kentucky Plants

Awards and Honors

  • Nemmers Prize in Economics, 2008
  • Fellow, 2006, National Academy of Sciences
  • Fellow, 1992, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Fellow, 1984, Econometric Society