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Kellogg honored Prof. Roger Myerson with an Oct. 19 reception that included friends, family and colleagues. From left: Northwestern University Provost Daniel Linzer; McCormick School Assistant Dean of Marketing and External Communications Gina Weber Myerson; Prof. Myerson; son Daniel Myerson; and Kellogg Senior Associate Dean Kathleen Hagerty.

Prof. Roger Myerson wins Nobel Prize in Economics

Kellogg School friends and colleagues congratulate former MEDS Dept. chair

By Matt Golosinski

10/15/2007 - Professor Roger B. Myerson, an influential figure who helped develop the Kellogg School’s analytical strengths in game theory and economic theory during his long tenure at Kellogg, has won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Economics.

He shares the award, which was bestowed for his work on mechanism design, with Professors Leonid Hurwicz (University of Minnesota) and Eric S. Maskin (Princeton University).

Myerson, today on faculty at the University of Chicago Department of Economics, was an integral part of the Kellogg School’s famed Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences Department from 1976-2001 as the Harold L. Stuart Professor of Decision Sciences. It was during that time that much of his Nobel-winning research was conducted as part of a renowned team of Kellogg scholars who pushed the boundaries of how applied mathematics and game theory could generate breakthroughs in management education and strategy.

A prolific author, Myerson, 56, has contributed widely to scholarly journals and has written two books. Friends and colleagues at the Kellogg School congratulated the former chair of its MEDS Department on his Nobel Prize.

“I had the privilege of taking several classes from Roger Myerson,” said David Besanko ’82, senior associate dean for planning and external relations, who also noted Myerson’s scholarly influence as a member of his doctoral committee. Besanko said that Myerson’s “path-breaking application of mechanism design to regulation” with David Baron, another Kellogg professor at the time, was a direct inspiration for Besanko’s own research with Baron.

Myerson’s effort in leading MEDS was instrumental in cultivating a world-class department that combined managerial economics, decision sciences and operations management, using tools from economics, mathematics and statistics to study incentives and the impact of asymmetric information in markets and firms. During his Kellogg tenure, Myerson served on the editorial boards of several leading journals, including Games and Economic Behavior, founded by Ehud Kalai, the James J. O’Connor Distinguished Professor of Decision and Game Sciences at Kellogg.

“At the time, we PhD students who studied with Roger and other great faculty from MEDS had a sense that something special was going on,” said Besanko, the Alvin J. Huss Distinguished Professor of Management and Strategy. Being consumed with their graduate studies, however, Besanko said he and his peers “probably didn’t fully appreciate until later just how special that intellectual environment was until we realized just how much impact it had on our own careers.”

Baron also recalled his Myerson’s influence. “When Roger Myerson joined the MEDS Department, it was clear that he was a brilliant scholar with wide-ranging interests,” said Baron, a founding member of MEDS and himself a significant figure in economics who is today visiting research professor at Kellogg. “During his 25 years at Kellogg, his research was original and creative and deeply influential on his colleagues and the economics profession. He co-authored papers with a number of MEDS faculty members and made all of us better scholars.”

In announcing the prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences acknowledged the achievement of Myerson and his colleagues in developing the theory of mechanism design, a part of economic theory that has helped economists understand the optimal allocation of resources, taking account of individuals' incentives and their private information. Mechanism design theory has been used to study questions such as the design of efficient trading mechanisms, optimal schemes of regulation, and auction design. The theory now plays “a central role in many areas of economics and parts of political science,” according to the Academy’s press release.

Dean Emeritus Donald P. Jacobs also praised Myerson: “Roger is an extreme intellect. He is a splendid researcher and, interestingly enough, also very proud of his teaching. He certainly deserves this honor.”

Thomas N. Hubbard, the John L. and Helen Kellogg Professor of Management and Strategy, said that the Kellogg community should feel proud of Myerson and his accomplishments, particularly since Myerson’s groundbreaking research was cultivated while at Kellogg for 25 years.

“At the time that Kellogg hired Myerson in the mid-1970s, mechanism design (and other fields where game theory played a prominent role) were not mainstream fields and most schools were not looking to hire researchers that worked in these fields,” said Hubbard. “Kellogg took a chance and hired people like Roger, Mark Satterthwaite, Paul Milgrom, John Roberts, Bob Weber, Ehud Kalai, Bengt Holmstrom, and many others who did very important work in the field while at Kellogg.”

Myerson’s spouse, Gina Weber Myerson, is assistant dean for marketing and external communications at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.