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| 22 September 2004

Business and economics professor wins German economics prize


Oliver Williamson
Oliver Williamson, an emeritus professor at the Haas School of Business and Department of Economics, is the 2004 recipient of the H.C. Recktenwald Prize in Economics for his contributions to the development of transaction-cost theory and institutional economics.

Previous recipients were Edmond Malinvaux of France, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, Princeton University economist Paul Krugman, and economist Paul Romer of Stanford University.

The premier German prize in economics was established by Hertha Recktenwald in honor of her husband, internationally recognized political economist Horst Claus Recktenwald, who died in 1990. Recipients are selected every two years. Williamson will accept the honor in ceremonies to be held Nov. 3 at the Nuremberg Castle in Nuremberg, Germany.

Williamson is known worldwide as an expert in anti-trust, regulatory, and transaction-cost economics. (The latter combines economics, law, and organization theory to study complex contract and economic organization.) His work is said to have influenced everything from electricity deregulation in California and investment in Eastern Europe to human-resource management in the technology industry.

Williamson, who also had an appointment in Berkeley’s School of Law (Boalt Hall), has called his own work a blending of the extremes of both soft social science and abstract economic theory.

The Edgar F. Kaiser Professor of Business Administration is the author of several books, including an economics classic, Markets and Hierarchies: Analysis and Antitrust Implications (1975) and, 10 years later, The Economic Institutions of Capitalism: Firms, Markets, Relational Contracting. The latter is one of the most frequently cited works in social-science research.

Williamson served as a special economic assistant to the head of the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department from 1966 to 1967 and has consulted for the National Science Foundation and the Federal Trade Commission. He has received eight honorary doctorates from universities around the world.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the Econometrics Society.

He also was the 1999-2001 president of the International Society of New Institutional Economics. In 1995 he served as chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate.