Oliver E. Williamson
Fellow: Awarded 1977
Field of Study: Economics
Competition: US & Canada
Oliver Williamson is Professor of the Graduate School and Edgar F. Kaiser Professor Emeritus of Business, Economics, and Law at the Haas Business and Public Policy Group at the University of California, Berkeley. On October 12, 2009, he was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel “for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm.”
After receiving an M.B.A. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in economics from Carnegie Mellon University, Mr. Williamson taught at UC Berkeley for two years (1963-65), then at the University of Pennsylvania (1965-83) and Yale University (1983-85), before returning to Berkeley to join the faculty of Haas.
While at Penn, Mr. Williamson published his classic article “Economies as an Antitrust Defense: The Welfare Tradeoffs” in the American Economic Review (1968). As David Henderson explained in the Wall Street Journal (12 October 2009), that article “showed that horizontal mergers of companies in the same industry—even those that increase market power and even those where the increase in market power leads to a higher price—can create efficiency.” Among his other influential publications are Markets and Hierarchies: Analysis and Antitrust Implications (Free Press, 1975); The Economic Institutions of Capitalism: Firms, Markets, Relational Contracting (Free Press, 1985); “The Theory of the Firm as Governance Structure,” Journal of Economic Perspectives (2002); and “The Economics of Governance,” American Economic Review (2005). His works, many of which have gone through multiple editions and been translated into Japanese, Italian, and Polish, have been very influential in antitrust cases.
In addition to having been awarded ten honorary doctorates, from institutions in Norway, Chile, Russia, Germany, Spain, and France, among others, Oliver Williamson has won the Distinguished Senior U.S. Scientist Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (1987), the John von Neumann Prize (1999), and the Horst Claus Recktenwald Prize in Economics (2004). He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1994 and was named an Eminent Scholar of the Fellows of the Academy of International Business in 2002. In 2002 he was named Honorary Editor of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.