Dean Michael Spence

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When A. Michael Spence arrived at Stanford to take over the deanship in 1990, he vowed “to pour all my time and emotional and intellectual energy” into taking on imaginative projects to expand the business school’s intellectual profile. Under Spence’s leadership (1990-1999), the school built relationships between researchers and business and industry leaders, and put more emphasis on global management issues, the management of technology, and entrepreneurship.

Applications increase to roughly 7,000 for the 360 spaces in the entering MBA class and also jumped for admission to the PhD program.

“When future generations look back on this era in business education, I believe they will see this as a period of rapid change,” Spence told the Faculty Senate in his annual report in 1998. “Changes in technology alone, particularly in information technology, have had an immense impact on business organizations and on markets. In a global economy, with organizations that are increasingly geographically dispersed and complex, companies must maintain adequate levels of communication and control, all the while increasing speed and efficiency.”

During the Spence years the school:

  • Introduced the Global Management Program.
  • Established the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
  • Constructed the $31 million Schwab Residential Center to house graduate students and executive program participants and the Knight Center office building.
  • Expanded the school’s executive education program, introducing a dozen new programs and extending the offerings to a year-round schedule.
  • Supported the Stanford Computer Industry Project, an interdisciplinary research project involving high-tech manufacturing firms and the schools of business and engineering and the Stanford Integrated Manufacturing Association (SIMA), another joint business-engineering program involving leading manufacturing firms.

Spence served as chairman of the board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy of the National Research Council, which in 1994 issued a report calling for changes in economic policy to achieve longer term growth in productivity, employment, and living standards.

In 2001 he shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

At Princeton, where he was a varsity hockey player, Spence earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy summa cum laude and was selected for a Rhodes Scholarship. He holds a BA/MA from Oxford University and a PhD from Harvard. While teaching at Harvard, he received the John Kenneth Galbraith Prize for Excellence in Teaching at that institution. Immediately before coming to Stanford, Spence served as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard.

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A. Michael Spence’s research interests focus on the study of economic growth and development, dynamic competition and the economics of information.