Oliver E. Williamson, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business and expert in transaction cost economics, was honored last month as a 2007 Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association (AEA).
The AEA bestows distinguished fellowships on no more than three economists of high distinction in the US and Canada each year. Williamson joined Lloyd Shapley of UCLA and Orley Ashenfelter of Princeton University as recipients this year . Past recipients of the AEA honor include Nobel Laureates Gerard Debreu, an emeritus professor of economics and mathematics at UC Berkeley, and the late John C. Harsanyi, a longtime professor at the Haas School and Berkeley's Department of Economics.
Williamson's work explores how varying organizational structures for markets and institutions affect economic activity. His work, which blends social science with abstract economic theory, is said to have influenced everything from investment in Eastern Europe to human resource management in the technology industry.
In selecting Williamson, the AEA cited his influential role in shaping the way economists think about firms, contracts, and organizations. "Long before the internal operation of firms was on the radar screen of almost any other economist, 'Olly' did the seminal work in this area," says UC Berkeley Koshland Professor of Economics George Akerlof, a member of the AEA executive committee that selected Williamson to receive a 2007 distinguished fellowship and a 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics. "Williamson's insights into the incentive structure within firms and organizations dominate the field."
Williamson is the Edgar F. Kaiser Professor of Business Administration and a professor emeritus of business, economics, and law at Haas. He is the author of several books, including Markets and Hierarchies: Analysis and Antitrust Implications, which is considered an economics classic; and The Economic Institutions of Capitalism: Firms, Markets, Relational Contracting, which is said to be the most frequently cited work in social science research.
"We congratulate Olly on this important professional acknowledgement of his scholarly work and thank him for the distinction it brings to the Haas School," says Haas School Associate Dean for Academic Affairs James Lincoln.