Adams Distinguished Professor of Management, Emeritus
Professor of Economics (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences
Robert Wilson studies game theory and its applications to business and economics. His research and teaching focus on market design, pricing, negotiation, and related topics concerning industrial organization and information economics. He has been a major contributor to auction designs and competitive bidding strategies in the oil, communication, and power industries, and to the design of innovative pricing schemes.
Robert Wilson is the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management, Emeritus, at the Stanford Business School, where he has been on the faculty since 1964. His research and teaching are on market design, pricing, negotiation, and related topics concerning industrial organization and information economics. He is an expert on game theory and its applications.
Dr. Wilson has been a major contributor to auction designs and competitive bidding strategies in the oil, communication, and power industries, and to the design of innovative pricing schemes. His work on pricing of priority service for electric power has been implemented in the utility industry. His book on Nonlinear Pricing (Oxford Press, 1993) is an encyclopedic analysis of tariff design and related topics for public utilities, including power, communications, and transport; it won the 1995 Leo Melamed Prize, awarded biannually by the University of Chicago for “outstanding scholarship by a business professor.” His work on game theory includes wage bargaining and strikes, and in legal contexts, settlement negotiations. He has authored some of the basic studies of reputational effects in predatory pricing, price wars, and other competitive battles.
He has published approximately 100 articles in professional journals and books since completing the Bachelor, Master's, and Doctoral degrees at Harvard College and the Harvard Business School. He has been an associate editor of several journals, and delivered several public lectures. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow, former officer and Council member of the Econometric Society. The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration conferred an honorary Doctor of Economics degree in 1986, and the University of Chicago, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1995.
On problems of pricing strategy, he has advised the U.S. Department of the Interior and oil companies (on bidding for offshore leases), the Electric Power Research Institute (on pricing of electric power, design of priority service systems, design of wholesale markets, funding of basic research, and risk analysis of environmental hazards and climate change), and the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (on pricing product lines in high technology industries). With Paul Milgrom he designed for Pacific Bell the auction of spectrum licenses adopted by the FCC, and subsequently worked on the bidding strategy team, and later for other firms. He contributed to the designs of the power exchange and auctions of ancillary services in California, and he has continued to advise EPRI; the California Power Exchange; the California, New England, and Ontario System Operators; the Canadian Competition Bureau; Energy Ministries of several countries; and others involved in the design of auctions for electricity, power and gas transmission, and telecommunications in the U.S.A. and elsewhere. His designs of other auctions have been adopted by private firms. He has been an expert witness on antitrust and securities matters.
D.Laws (Hon.), Univ. of Chicago, 1995; D.Econ. (Hon.), Norwegian School of Economics, 1986; DBA, 1963; MBA, 1961; AB, Harvard Univ., 1959.
At Stanford since 1964.
Director, Stanford Institute of Theoretical Economics, 1993-95.
- Sufficient Conditions for Stable Equilibria: Theoretical Economics, 2006
- Essential Equilibria: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2005
- Bargaining with Private Information: Journal of Economic Literature, 1993
- Nonlinear Pricing: Oxford Press, 1993
- Foundations of Dynamic Monopoly and the Coase Conjecture: Journal of Economic Theory, 1986
- 2058: Existence of Equilibria in All-Pay Auctions
- 2057: Existence of Equilibria in Auctions with Interdependent Values: Two Symmetic Bidders
- 2055: Efficient Intertemporal Allocation of Risk and Return
- 2056R: Existence of Equilibria in Auctions with Private Values
- 2104: Competition for a Majority
- 388: The Loss in Revenue From a Share Auction
- 389: Management and Financing of Exploration
- 551: On The Chain-Store Paradox and Predation: Reputation for Toughness
- 584: Sequential Equilibria
- 603: Rational Cooperation in the Finitely-Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma
- 683: Pricing a Product Line
- 892: Contributions to The New Palgrave
- 1708: Architecture of Power Markets
- 1896: Justification of Stable Equilibria
- 1897: Refinements of Nash Equilibrium
- 1900: Essential Equilibria
- 1933R: Stable Outcomes of Generic Games in Extensive Form
- 1934R: Metastable Equilibria
- 1955: On Forward Induction
- 1966: Supply Function Equilibrium in a Constrained Transmission System
- 1967: A Decomposition Algorithm for N-Player Games
- 1984: Computing Equilibria of N-Player Games with Arbitrary Accuracy
- 1985: Global Newton Method for Stochastic Games
- 1986: Decision-Theoretic Forward Induction
- 2000: Axiomatic Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games with Generic Payoffs
- 2008: Axiomatic Theory of Equilibrium Selection for Games with Two Players, Perfect Information, and Generic Payoffs
- 2021R: Axiomatic Equilibrium Selection for Generic Two-Player Games
Awards and Honors
- Designated Distinguished Fellow, 2006, The American Economic Association
- PhD Faculty Distinguished Teaching Award, 2001, Stanford University
- Elected Member, 1994, National Academy of Sciences