Nobel Prize in Economics awarded to Oliver Hart

Oliver Hart is a genius, with a penetrating mind that reaches into the very depths of our subject
Oliver Hart
Oliver Hart Harvard

Professor Oliver Hart, Visiting Centennial Professor in the Department of Economics at LSE and Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard, has been today jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

Professor Hart shares the award with Bengt Holmström of MIT for their contributions to contract theory - work which “lays an intellectual foundation for designing policies and institutions in many areas, from bankruptcy legislation to political constitutions” the prize awarding body said.

Professor Leonardo Felli, head of the Department of Economics at LSE, said: “The Department of Economics at the LSE is absolutely delighted about the decision of the Nobel prize committee to award the 2016 Nobel prize in Economics to two of the most distinguished economists of our time, Professors Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom, for their work on the theory of contracts. Their analysis of the contractual relationship between individuals has enhanced our understanding of the inner functioning of modern firms, corporations and organizations, as well as providing a key insight into the basic contractual relationships between economic agents, the building block of all economic activities.”

Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides, Nobel Prize winner and Regius Professor of Economics at LSE, said: “I am delighted by the award to Oliver Hart. Oliver has carved new areas of research in the theory of the firm, monopolistic competition, asymmetric information and contracts and has been instrumental in giving new directions to the work of Nobel laureates Ronald Coase and James Mirrlees. He has been a wonderful colleague here at LSE and has stimulated work in his area of research by students and faculty that will last for many years to come. This award brings a fully justified acknowledgment at the highest level for his many contributions to the profession.”

Professor John Hardman Moore, Professor of Economic Theory in the Department of Economics, said: "Oliver Hart joins the illustrious group of LSE faculty to have won the Nobel Prize. As someone who has collaborated with Oliver over twenty-five years, I can report some inside information: Oliver Hart is a genius, with a penetrating mind that reaches into the very depths of our subject. It has been my privilege to have worked alongside him, and to have done so at that greatest of institutions, the London School of Economics."

Professor Oliver Hart works mainly on contract theory, the theory of the firm, corporate finance, and law and economics. His research centres on the roles that ownership structure and contractual arrangements play in the governance and boundaries of corporations. His book, Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure, was published in 1995 and he is author of numerous journal articles. Professor Hart is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Finance Association, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and has several honorary degrees. He has been president of the American Law and Economics Association and a vice president of the American Economic Association.

Behind the article

Oliver Hart gave the inaugural Coase lecture at LSE on 22 February 2007 where he discussed how his recent work with John Moore on contracts as reference points can be used to shed light on the theory of the firm. Listen to a podcast of the talk here