What Mechanism Design Theorists Had to Say About Laboratory Experimentation in the Mid-1980s
The Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series No. 2013-18
48 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2014
Date Written: December 9, 2013
Thanks to the recent studies of the history and philosophy of experimental economics, it is well known that around the early 1980s, experimental economists made a case for the legitimacy of their laboratory work by emphasizing that it was a nice and indispensable complement to mechanism design theorists’ mathematical study of institutions. The present paper examines what mechanism design theorists thought of laboratory experimentation, or whether they were willing to form a coalition with experimental economists circa the mid-1980s. By exploring several dimensions of the relationship between mechanism design theory and experimental economics, the present paper shows that a close rapport had been established by the early 1980s between the representative members of the two camps, and also that mechanism design theorists were among the strongest supporters of laboratory experimentation in the economics profession in the mid-1980s.
Keywords: mechanism design theory, experimental economics, institutional design, Stanley Reiter, Vernon Smith, Charles Plott
JEL Classification: B2, C90, D82
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation