Lancaster University welcomes Nobel Prize winner

Professor Robert Aumann points with the index finger of his left hand while giving a lecture.

A world-leading Nobel Prize-winning economist delivered one of Lancaster University Management School’s keynote lectures.

Professor Robert Aumann, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2005, addressed an audience of academics, business leaders and members of the public at the 2023 Andrews and Brunner Lecture.

“It was a privilege to host Professor Bob Aumann for this year’s Andrews and Brunner Lecture,” said Professor Themis Pavlidis said, Head of the Department of Economics at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS). “Bob has made path-breaking contributions that have shaped the field, and we are grateful to him for sharing his remarkable insights with such a broad audience.”

Professor Aumann won the Nobel Prize for his theory of repeated games, which enhances understanding of the prerequisites for cooperation, and whose insights can help explain economic conflicts, such as price and trade wars. He shared the prize with Professor Thomas Schelling.

After being welcomed by Professor Eyal Winter, the PWS Andrews and Elizabeth Brunner Chair in Industrial Economics at Lancaster, he gave a fascinating insight into mainstream and behavioural economics, proposing a synthesis between the two.

Mainstream economics is based on the rationality assumption, i.e., people to the best of their ability promote their interests. Behavioural economics, meanwhile, argues that people employ behavioural rules of thumb – such as biases and heuristics (instinctive approaches to decision-making) – which can often lead to poor results. Professor Aumann argued in support of a synthesis according to which people indeed act by rules which, however, usually work well as they are the product of evolutionary processes and only fail in exceptional or contrived scenarios.

Professor Robert Aumann stands behind a computer screen as he gives a lecture

Professor Claire Leitch, Executive Dean of LUMS, said: “Professor Aumann brought with him a lifetime of skills and knowledge, of breaking boundaries and setting standards. It was a privilege for us to host him here in Lancaster, and to be able to experience just why he is so highly regarded and was awarded the Nobel Prize.”

Professor Aumann is a founding member of the Center for the Study of Rationality in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the author of almost a hundred scientific papers and six books. He has held visiting positions at Princeton, Yale, Berkeley, Louvain, Stanford, Stony Brook, and NYU. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences (USA), the British Academy, the Academia Europaea, and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The Andrews and Brunner Lecture commemorates PWS Andrews and Elizabeth Brunner, two leading figures who significantly contributed to the success of the Economics Department at Lancaster University from 1967 to 1983. Both supported the University’s growing reputation in Economics, and are fondly remembered by former students who benefited from their teaching.

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