Smith, Vernon L. 1927-
SMITH, Vernon L. 1927-
(Vernon Lomax Smith)
PERSONAL: Born January 1, 1927, in Wichita, KS; son of Vernon Chessman and Lulu Belle (Lomax) Smith; married Joyce Aline Harkleroad, 1950; married Carol L. Breckner, 1980; married; wife's name Candace; children: (first marriage) Deborah Aline, Eric Lomax, Torrie Diane. Education: Attended Friends University, 1944–45; California Institute of Technology, B.S., 1949; University of Kansas, M.A., 1951; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1955. Religion: Unitarian Universalist.
CAREER: University of Kansas, Lawrence, instructor, 1950–52; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, research economist, 1954–55; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, assistant professor, 1955–58, associate professor, 1958–61, professor of economics, 1961–67; Brown University, Providence, RI, professor of economics, 1967–68; University of Massachusetts—Amherst, professor of economics, 1968–75; University of Arizona, Tucson, professor of economics and founder of Economic Science Laboratory, 1975–2001; George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, director of Interdisciplinary Center for Experimental Science, professor of economics and law, and research fellow at Mercatus Center, 2001–. Visiting professor, Stanford University, 1961–62.
MEMBER: American Economic Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Ford Foundation faculty research fellowship, 1957–58; Stanford University Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences fellow, 1972–73; Fairchild distinguished fellow, California Institute of Technology, 1973–74; Adam Smith Award, Association for Private Enterprise Education, 1995; California Institute of Technology distinguished alumni award, 1996; Nobel Prize in Economics (split), 2002; doctor of management, Purdue University; Andersen Consulting Professor of the Year.
Economics: An Analytical Approach, Irwin (Homewood, IL), 1957, 2nd edition, 1962.
Investment and Production, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1961.
(Editor) Economics of Natural and Environmental Resources, Gordon & Breach (New York, NY), 1977.
(Editor) Research in Experimental Economics, JAI Press (Greenwich, CT), 1978.
(Editor) Experimental Economics, Gower Pub. Co. (Brookfield, VT), 1990.
(Editor, with Richard H. Day) Experiments in Decision, Organization and Exchange, North-Holland (New York, NY), 1993.
Bargaining and Market Behavior: Essays in Experimental Economics, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor, with Francesco Parisi) The Law and Economics of Irrational Behavior, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2005.
Contributor to professional journals. Smith's papers are housed at Duke University.
SIDELIGHTS: Vernon L. Smith is a Nobel Prizewinning economist who "pioneered the use of experiments to test economic theory," as Peter Coy wrote in Business Week. These experiments have "given economists a deeper understanding of the actual workings of real-world markets," a reporter for PR Newswire explained. Smith's work has focused particularly on the role of auctions in the sale of public utilities and broadcasting licenses. He has been a consultant for the privatization of electric companies in Australia and New Zealand.
Before Smith began conducting economic experiments in the 1950s, the field of economics had assumed that no such experiments could be conducted. "Smith changed all that," Jeremy Clift explained in Finance and Development, "pioneering the use of experiments conducted in the controlled environment of the laboratory to test economic theories, in particular why markets work the way they do." One surprising result of these experiments has been to find that people are not as selfish as economists had surmised. "We find that people are more trusting and achieve more cooperative outcomes more often than game theory predicts," Smith told Clift.
Smith has overseen thousands of laboratory experiments involving such varying groups as school children and business executives. He has come to believe that when it comes to market situations, most people behave in a manner consistent with their own best interests as well as the interests of the other person. Over the years Smith has gone from being an avowed socialist to being a libertarian who believes that "the best systems maximize the freedom of the individual," as he explained to Reason.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Ascribe Higher Education News Service, October 10, 2002, "Papers of Economics Nobel Prize Winner Vernon L. Smith Housed at Duke University."
Broadcasting and Cable, October 21, 2002, John S. Eggerton, "FCC's 'Nobel Prize,'" p. 4.
Business Week, October 21, 2002, Peter Coy, "Laurels for an Odd Couple; A Psychologist and a Traditionalist Share This Year's Nobel," p. 50.
Economic Journal, January, 1994, review of Papers in Experimental Economics, p. 213.
Economist, October 12, 2002, "All Too Human; Economics Focus."
Europe Intelligence Wire, October 9, 2002, "Vernon Smith, Co-Nobel Economics Laureate, 'Very Happy' with Prize."
Finance and Development, March, 2003, Jeremy Clift, "The Lab Man: How Experimental Economics Emerged from the Shadows," p. 6.
Harvard Law Review, May, 2005, review of The Law and Economics of Irrational Behavior, p. 2490.
Institutional Investor International Editions, November, 2002, "Smith's Nobel Calling," p. 14.
Journal of Economic Literature, December, 1992, review of Papers in Experimental Economics, p. 2203; March, 2001, review of Bargaining and Market Behavior, p. 192.
Journal of Investing, spring, 2003, George M. Frankfurter, "The 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics," p. 7.
Pensions and Investments, October 14, 2002, Joel Chernoff, "Mind Over Money: Economics Award Seen Vindicating Validity of Behavioral Economics," p. 2.
PR Newswire, October 9, 2002, "Dr. Vernon L. Smith Awarded Nobel Prize in Economics; Vernon Smith, Credited as 'Father of Experimental Economics."
Reason, December, 2002, Mike Lynch and Nick Gillespie, "The Experimental Economist: Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith Takes Markets Places They've Never Been Before," p. 34.
U.S. News and World Report, October 21, 2002, Noam Neusner, "Get Real, Adam Smith," p. 58.