Donald John Roberts has been a member of the Stanford faculty since 1980, when he joined the GSB from Northwestern University, where he had been a professor in the Kellogg School of Management.
Born in Winnipeg in 1945, he was educated at the Universities of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Minnesota. His research has contributed primarily to the development of economic theory and game theory and their application to problems of economics and management; to the study of industrial competition, especially when informational differences among market participants are important; and to the economics of organization.
He is the author or coauthor of over 70 scholarly articles, numerous business cases and books. The first of these, Economics, Organization and Management, was the first text to apply modern theories of incentives and contracting to managerial problems. His more recent book, The Modern Firm: Organizational Design for Performance and Growth¸ was named as the best business book of the year by The Economist. He is the co-editor of The Handbook of Organizational Economics.
Recently his research has involved running controlled experiments to investigate the effects of changing management practices in large firms.
Roberts’ teaching in the MBA, Sloan, and Executive Programs has, in recent years, focused on strategy and organization, with special attention to multinational business. He has also advised numerous PhD students who have joined the faculties of many of the world’s leading business schools and economics departments.
He has held visiting, research appointments at Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (Louvain, Belgium), the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford, California), All Souls College and Nuffield College (Oxford, England) and McKinsey & Co. (London). He has also been a visiting researcher at the Institute for Advanced Study in Jerusalem, the Department of Economics of the University of California, Berkeley, the Institute of Economics and Statistics of Oxford University and the Sloan School of Management at MIT, a visiting lecturer at the Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques in Paris and a visiting professor at the Université des Sciences Sociales de Toulouse. In 1997 he gave the inaugural Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies at Oxford and in 2000 he was the Minnesota Lecturer at the Department of Economics of the University of Minnesota. In 2005 he was a Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Bath and in 2007 he was the Freehills Distinguished Lecturer at the University of New South Wales.
He has also consulted to major corporations in the United States, Japan and Europe. A Fellow and former Council Member of the Econometric Society, Roberts was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005.
In 2002, Roberts received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Stanford Graduate School of Business' Sloan Master's Program. In 2004, The Economist named his book The Modern Firm the year's best business book and in 2005 he received the school's Robert T. Davis Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award.
He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Winnipeg in 2007.