John Roberts has been a member of the Stanford faculty since 1980, when he joined the GSB from Northwestern University, where he had been a professor in the Kellogg School of Management. Born in Winnipeg in 1945, he was educated at the Universities of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Minnesota.
His research has contributed primarily to the development of economic theory and game theory and their application to problems of economics and management; to the study of industrial competition, especially when informational differences among market participants are important; and to the economics of organization. He is the author or coauthor of over 70 scholarly articles, more than 30 business cases and two books. The first of these, Economics, Organization and Management, was the first text to apply modern theories of incentives and contracting to managerial problems. His more recent book, The Modern Firm: Organizational Design for Performance and Growth¸ was named as the best business book of the year by The Economist. He is the co-editor of The Handbook of Organizational Economics, which presents a unique, path-setting overview of the subject. Recently his research has involved running randomized controlled experiments to investigate the effects of changing management practices in large firms.
Roberts’ teaching in the MBA, Sloan, and Executive Programs focused on strategy and organization, with special attention to multinational business. He has also advised numerous PhD students who have joined the faculties of many of the world’s leading business schools and economics departments.
Roberts has held visiting positions at the University of Louvain (Belgium), the Ecole National de l’Administration et des Etudes Economiques (Paris), the Hebrew University, the University of California Berkeley, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, All Souls and Nuffield Colleges of Oxford University, the Université des Sciences Sociales (Toulouse), McKinsey and Company, London and the London School of Economics, where he was the BP Centennial Professor. He has also consulted to major corporations in the United States, Japan and Europe.
A Fellow and former Council Member of the Econometric Society, Roberts was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. He received a honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Winnipeg in 2007.