Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson
Professor Emeritus, Economics
+1 (650) 723-8620
CV
The Adams Distinguished Professor of Management, Emeritus
Academic Area:

Research Statement

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.

Bio

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.

Academic Degrees

  • D.Laws (Honorary), University of Chicago, 1995
  • D.Economics (Honorary), Norwegian School of Economics, 1986
  • DBA, Harvard University, 1963
  • MBA, Harvard University, 1961
  • AB, Harvard University, 1959

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 1964
  • Director, Stanford Institute of Theoretical Economics, 1993-1995

Awards and Honors

  • Nobel Prize in Economics, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 2020
  • John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science, National Academy of Sciences, 2018
  • Designated Distinguished Fellow, The American Economic Association, 2006
  • PhD Faculty Distinguished Teaching Award, Stanford University, 2001
  • Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, 1994

Publications

Journal Article

Hung-po Chao, Robert Wilson
Energy Economics
February 2020 Vol. 86
Robert Wilson, Alvin E. Roth
Journal of Economic Perspectives
August 2019 Vol. 33 Issue 3 Pages 118-143
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson
Journal of Economic Theory
January 2009 Vol. 144 Issue 1 Pages 414-421
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson
Theoretical Economics
2006 Vol. 1 Issue 2 Pages 167-206
Srihari Govindan , Robert Wilson
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
2005 Vol. 102 Issue 43 Pages 15706–15711
John Kennan, Robert Wilson
Journal of Economic Literature
1993 Vol. 31 Issue 1 Pages 45-104
Faruk Gul, Hugo Sonnenschein, Robert Wilson
Journal of Economic Theory
1986 Vol. 39 Issue 1 Pages 155-190
David M. Kreps, Robert Wilson
Econometrica
1982 Vol. 50 Pages 863-894

Books

Robert Wilson
Oxford Press
1993

Working Papers

Paulo Barelli, Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2013
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2010
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2010
Robert Wilson, Eiichiro Kazumori 2009
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2008
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2007
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2007
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2007
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2006
Robert Wilson, Srihari Govindan 2005
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2005
Srihari Govindan, Robert Wilson 2005
Robert Wilson 2001
Robert Wilson, Shmuel Oren, Stephen Smith 1983
David M. Kreps, Paul R. Milgrom, Robert Wilson, John Roberts 1981
David M. Kreps, Robert Wilson 1980

Stanford Case Studies

Robert Wilson
1965

Stanford University Affiliations

  • Director Stanford Institute of Theoretical Economics 1993-95

Insights by Stanford Business

November 25, 2020
Robert Wilson and Paul Milgrom show how auctions, if designed correctly, can help distribute resources more fairly.

School News

October 12, 2020
“Bob brought economic theory to the real world, both as a mechanism for understanding ‘how things work’ and then in the design of better institutions.”
October 12, 2020
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited the pair for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.
March 28, 2018
Three award-winning economists talk about where the field has been and where it’s heading.
January 17, 2018
David Kreps, Paul Milgrom, and Robert Wilson have been honored for their pioneering work using game theory to help solve real-world problems.
February 27, 2017
A recent two-day symposium celebrated the depth and breadth of impact by faculty member David Kreps in choice theory, finance, game theory, economics.
February 16, 2016
His research on market design, pricing, negotiation, and related topics concerning industrial organization and information economics broke new ground.