Paul Oyer

Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics

Lacob Family Faculty Fellow for 2013-14

Paul Oyer studies the economics of organizations and human resource practices. His recent work has looked at the use of broad-based stock option plans, how firms use non-cash benefits, and how firms respond to limits on their ability to displace workers. Oyer’s current projects include studies of how labor market conditions affect their entire careers when MBAs and PhD economists leave school, how firms identify and recruit workers in high-skill and competitive labor markets (with a focus on the markets for software engineers and newly minted lawyers), and, of most importance to his colleagues, how universities price and allocate parking spaces.


Paul Oyer is The Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economics and the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Labor Economics.

Paul does research in the field of personnel economics. He has done several studies of how firms pay and provide incentives for their workers. He looked at how salespeople and executives react to incentive systems and why some firms use broad-based stock option programs. He has also done work on how firms have adjusted their human resource practices to increases in legal barriers to dismissing workers. Paul has recently studied how random events early in a person’s career can have long-term ramifications. This work focuses on MBAs (especially investment bankers) and on PhD economists. Paul’s current projects include papers focusing on how firms select and recruit workers, including new MBAs and lawyers.

Before moving to the GSB in 2000, Paul was on the faculty of the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. In his pre-academic life, he worked for the management consulting firm of Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, as well as for the high technology firms 3Com Corporation and ASK Computer Systems. He holds a BA in math and computer science from Middlebury College, an MBA from Yale University, and an MA and PhD in economics from Princeton University. When not teaching or doing research, Paul tries to keep up with his two teenage children. He runs, swims, skis, plays a mean game of ping-pong, and keeps tabs on the Oakland A’s.

Academic Degrees

PhD, Princeton University, 1996; MBA, Yale University, 1989; BA, Middlebury College, 1985.

Professional Experience

At Stanford since 2000. Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2003-; Assistant Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1996-2000.

Selected Publications

Working Papers

  • Exploration for Human Capital: Theory and Evidence from the MBA Labor Market (with Camelia M. Kuhnen), July 2012
  • Firm/Employee Matching: An Industry Study of American Lawyers (with Scott Schaefer), October 2012
  • The Returns to Attending a Prestigious Law School (with Scott Schaefer), July 2010
  • Managerial Incentives and Value Creation: Evidence from Private Equity (with Phillip Leslie), November, 2009

Courses Taught

In The Media

  • Questions Are Raised About 1991 Civil Rights Act, New York Times
  • A Law of Unintended Consequences, Washington Post
  • This Reform Won't Kill Silicon Valley, Business Week