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Robert Gibbons

Robert Gibbons

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Affiliate, 2022-23
Research Affiliate, 2021-22
Research Affiliate, 2020-21
Research Affiliate, 2019-20
Research Affiliate, 2018-19
Research Affiliate, 2017-18
Research Affiliate, 2016-17
Fellow, 2014-15 Study #46
Fellow, 1994-95 Study #43

Robert Gibbons is Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management and professor in MIT’s department of economics. His research and teaching concern the design and performance of organized activities, especially “relational contracts” (informal agreements so rooted in the parties’ circumstances that they cannot be adjudicated by courts). Organized activities may occur not only within firms, but also between firms (e.g. supply relationships, alliances, joint ventures) or beyond firms (e.g. hospitals, schools, government agencies).


Since 2002, Gibbons has been co-principal investigator of MIT Sloan’s Program on Innovation in Markets and Organizations and founding director of the working group in organizational economics at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was co-editor (with John Roberts) of The Handbook of Organizational Economics (Princeton University Press, 2013) and a board member of the Citicorp Behavioral Science Research Council (1994-2000) and of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (2000-06).


During 2016-19, Gibbons and Woody Powell (Stanford University) co-ran a sequence of summer institutes at CASBS on organizations and their effectiveness. During Covid, they held virtual convocations integrating these four cohorts of summer scholars. In 2021-22, they will engage interested fellows with summer scholars who return for short stints at CASBS. Gibbons is a research affiliate and was a CASBS fellow in 1994-95 and 2014-15.

Tyler Journal Articles

Farrell, Joseph., Gibbons, Robert. 1995. "Cheap talk about specific investments." Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 11(2): 313-334.
Gibbons, Robert. 1997. "An Introduction to Applicable Game Theory." Journal of Economic Perspectives 11(1): 127-149.
Gibbons, Robert., Waldman, Michael. 1999. "A Theory of Wage and Promotion Dynamics Inside Firms." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 114(4): 1321-1358.
Baker, George., Gibbons, Robert., Murphy, Kevin J. 2002. "Relational Contracts and the Theory of the Firm*." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 117(1): 39-84.
Farber, Henry S., Gibbons, Robert. 1996. "Learning and Wage Dynamics*." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 111(4): 1007-1047.
Gibbons, Robert S. 2005. "Incentives and Careers in Organizations." Cambridge University Press. SSRN Electronic Journal
Gibbons, Robert., Kaplan, Robert S. 2015. "Formal measures in informal management: Can a balanced scorecard change a culture?." American Economic Review 105(5): 447-451.
Gibbons, Robert., Roberts, John. 2015. "Organizational Economics." Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences 1-15.
Martinez, Elizabeth A., Beaulieu, Nancy., Gibbons, Robert., Pronovost, Peter., Wang, Thomas. 2015. "Organizational culture and performance." American Economic Review 105(5): 331-335.
Baker, George., Gibbons, Robert., Murphy, Kevin J. 2002. "Relational contracts and the theory of the firm." Quarterly Journal of Economics 117(1): 39-84.
Farber, Henry S., Gibbons, Robert. 1996. "Learning and wage dynamics." Quarterly Journal of Economics 111(4): 1006-1047.
Gibbons, Robert., Waldman, Michael. 2006. "Enriching a theory of wage and promotion dynamics inside firms." Journal of Labor Economics 24(1): 59-107.