Robert Gibbons


Robert Gibbons

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Affiliated MIT Sloan Group

MIT Department

Robert Gibbons is the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management and a Professor of Applied Economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and he is Professor of Economics in MIT’s Department of Economics. He is also the co-principal investigator for the Program on Innovation in Markets and Organizations at MIT Sloan (2002-present).

Gibbons studies the design and performance of organizations and contracts, especially “relational contracts”—agreements so rooted in the parties’ particular circumstances that they are not written down, so that disputes cannot be adjudicated by outsiders such as courts. These contracts arise frequently both within firms such as between headquarters and divisions—and between firms such as in alliances. In some cases, relational contracts appear to be the source of persistent performance differences among seemingly similar firms, plants, and work groups.

His book, Game Theory for Applied Economists (Princeton University Press, 1992), has been translated into Chinese, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. He co-edited the Handbook of Organizational Economics with John Roberts (Princeton University Press, 2013) and he is currently preparing a doctoral text on organizational economics.

Gibbons served on the board of the Citicorp Behavioral Sciences Research Council for its duration, from 1994 to 2000, and on the board of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences from 2000 to 2006. He is the founding director of the working group in organizational economics at the National Bureau of Economic Research (2002-present).

He holds an AB in applied mathematics from Harvard University, an MPhil in economics from Cambridge University, and a PhD in decision sciences from Stanford University. He is a fellow of the Econometric Society and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Bob Gibbons has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


"Building an Equilibrium: Rules versus Principles in Relational Contracts."

Gibbons, Robert S., Manuel Grieder, Holger Herz, and Christian Zehnder. Organization Science. Forthcoming. SSRN Preprint. Supplemental Material.

"From Coase to culture: Visible Hands Build Equilibria."

Gibbons, Robert. Economica. Forthcoming.

"From Incentives to Control to Adaptation: Exploring Interactions Between Formal and Relational Governance."

Baker, George, Robert Gibbons, Kevin J. Murphy. Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics. Forthcoming. SSRN.

"Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence."

Gibbons, Robert, and Kevin J. Murphy. In Learning in Labour Markets, edited by Michael Waldman, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, Limited.

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