VŠE Awarded Honorary Doctorate to John A. List, Expert in Field Experiments

On the proposal of the Scientific Council of the Faculty of Economics, the Scientific Council of the Prague University of Economics and Business decided in November 2019 to award the title of “Doctor oeconomiae honoris causa” to Professor John List, the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago.

Professor List is a world-renowned scientist in the field of experimental and behavioral economics and one of today’s leading world intellectuals. In addition to academic recognition, his scientific work brings about substantial real-world implications. He is considered to be the founder of the field experiment, a scientific method of experimental investigation, which aims to analyze interventions in the real world instead of a laboratory environment, which has made him famous around the world. In his research he focuses on a wide range of economic problems with far-reaching social consequences, especially in the fields of philanthropy, education, corporate pricing behavior, discrimination, environmental economics, financial markets, the provision of public goods and the role of the market in developing rationality. The results of Professor List’s research provide practical implications in charitable and educational fields and many others. In 2009, Crain’s Chicago Business magazine referred to List as a “rock star” in philanthropy for his contribution in the field of motivators, which can increase the effectiveness of charitable fundraising. Professor List’s findings in the field of behavioral economics, where framing can increase work productivity, have been applied successfully in multiple corporations across the world. In the field of education research, in 2009 he won a $10 million grant to study the returns to pre-school education and to test the impact of performance pay for teachers by founding a pre-school called The Griffin Early Childhood Center.

Professor List was also shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in 2015. Herbert A. Simon (1978), Richard Thaler (2017), and Daniel Kahneman shared with Vernon Smith (2002) have already received this award for their contributions in related or similar fields of economics. So, it is just matter of time until Professor List is awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

The honorary doctorate ceremony awarded by the Rector of the Prague University of Economics and Business, Associate Professor Petr Dvorak, took place on Monday, 16th of May 2022 at 11:00, in the Vencovský Auditorium of the Prague University of Economics and Business (W. Churchill Square 4, Prague 3 – Žižkov). All academic representatives of the VŠE in Prague, including Rector and rectors of other Czech universities, foreign ambassadors, distinguished guests from organizations and institutions, students, alumni, and the general public, were present at the ceremony:

  • Laudatio on Prof. John A. List was presented by the Dean of the Faculty of Economics Prof. Zdeněk Chytil
  • The lecture on “The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale” was given by Prof. John A. List
  • Press Release of the Prague University of Economics and Business
  • Video from the ceremony will be available later

The Honorary Doctorate is awarded by the Prague University of Economics and Business to distinguished Czech and world science and practice representatives, especially in economics. The awarding of the honorary degree to Professor John A. List suits the profile of the Prague University of Economics and Business as a leading university, which develops scientific and research activities not only within the field of mainstream economics, but also supports alternative economic streams, which can improve current economic models, especially in cases when their explanatory power is limited. Professor List is leading representative of modern multidisciplinary approach, which is targeting hidden incentives that influence the economic behavior of individuals. His intellectual activity as a leading representative of experimental and behavioral economics, which is applied directly in the field, might be of a great inspiration to academic community of the Prague University of Economics and Business and also to business environment in the Czech Republic.

Professor John A. List was born on September 25, 1968 in Madison, Wisconsin. He received his B.S. in economics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Wyoming. Prior to joining the University of Chicago in 2005, he was professor at the University of Central Florida, the University of Arizona and the University of Maryland. At the same time, he served in the White House on the Council of Economic Advisers for environmental issues from 2002-2003. List served as Head of the Department of Economics at University of Chicago from 2012-2018, where he still holds the position of Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor. He is also a Research Fellow of the Econometric Society, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Research, a Research Associate at the NBER, and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor Economics (IZA). Professor List was named among the top 25 behavioral economists by the Association of TheBestSchools.org. According to RePEc, (Research Papers in Economics), Professor List was the top ranked economist worldwide of the 40,000 economists who graduated in the last 20 years. In 2008 he received the Arrow Senior Prize, in 2010 John Kenneth Galbraith prize, in 2012 Yrjo Jahnsson Lecture Series prize, where 10 out of 19 recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in economics, in 2017 he was awarded Klein Prize International Economic Review, where 6 out of 20 recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in economics. In the same year he received also the Hartsook Growing Philanthropy Award. In 2014 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Tilburg University and in 2016 by University of Ottava.

During his research career he has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles in highly ranked journals. He has also published ten books, the latest being “The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale” in 2022, which gives theoretical and empirical insights concerning the “science of using science”. In 2013 he wrote the book “The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life” (with Uri Gneezy), which became an international bestseller. This book is based on field experiments, targeting hidden incentives that influence the economic behavior of individuals. The book addresses social and economic problems “in the wild” at schools and in companies, where people have no idea that they are being observed. Among the topics examined, for instance, are discrimination and corporate pricing behavior. Profesor List closely cooperates in his research with renowned economists such as David Laibson, Steven Levitt, George Loewensten or Daron Acemoglu.