Oliver Hart (economist)

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This article is about the academic professor. For the hip hop artist, see Eyedea.

Oliver Simon D'Arcy Hart (born 1948) is an economist and the Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard University.


Born in Britain, Hart earned his B.A. in mathematics at King's College, Cambridge in 1969, his M.A. in economics at University of Warwick in 1972, and his Ph.D. in economics at Princeton University in 1974. He then became a fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge and a professor at the London School of Economics. In 1984, he returned to the U.S., where he taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, since 1993, at Harvard University. He was chairman of the Harvard economics department from 2000 to 2003. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the Econometric Society, of the American Finance Association, a corresponding fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has been president of the American Law and Economics Association and vice president of the American Economic Association, and has several honorary degrees.

Hart is an American citizen. He is married to writer Rita B. Goldberg, and has two sons and two grandsons. He is the son of the pioneering medical researcher Philip D'Arcy Hart and his wife Ruth Meyer, a medical gynaecologist.


He is an expert on contract theory, theory of the firm, corporate finance, and law and economics. His research centers on the roles that ownership structure and contractual arrangements play in the governance and boundaries of corporations.He has used his theoretical work on firms in two legal cases as a government expert (Black and Decker v. U.S.A. and WFC Holdings Corp. (Wells Fargo) v. U.S.A.).


  • Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure (Oxford University Press, 1995).

Selected articles[edit]

  • "On the Optimality of Equilibrium when the Market Structure is Incomplete", Journal of Economic Theory, December 1975, 418-443
  • "Takeover Bids, the Free-rider problem, and the Theory of the Corporation" (with Sanford J. Grossman), Bell Journal of Economics, Spring 1980, 42-64
  • "An Analysis of the Principal–Agent Problem" (with Sanford J. Grossman), Econometrica (January 1983) 7-46.
  • "The Market Mechanism as an Incentive Scheme," Bell Journal of Economics, 14 (Autumn 1983) 366-82.
  • "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration" (with Sanford J. Grossman), Journal of Political Economy, August 1986, 691-719.
  • "One Share-One vote and the Market for Corporate Control" (with Sanford J. Grossman), Journal of Financial Economics, 1988
  • "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation" (with John Hardman Moore), Econometrica 56(4) (July 1988).
  • "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm" (with John Hardman Moore), Journal of Political Economy 98(6) (1990).
  • " A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital " (with John Hardman Moore), Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 1994, 841-879
  • "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons" (with Andrei Shleifer and Robert W. Vishny), Quarterly Journal of Economics 112(4) (1997) 1126-61.
  • "Contracts as Reference Points" (with John Hardman Moore), Quarterly Journal of Economics, February, 2008,1-48.

External links[edit]