On Saturday, November 11, 2017, faculty and graduate students from the Economics departments of Indiana University and Purdue University held their first joint conference on research in behavioral and experimental economics. The conference provided an excellent opportunity for sharing research ideas, and allowing graduate students to play an integral role in conference presentations and discussions. The conference included six faculty and five graduate student presenters, along with fourteen other faculty and students involved in the discussions. The conference illustrated that experimental methods can be applied to address questions in a wide range of fields. Conference topics included the study of cooperation in social dilemma games, multi-product non-linear pricing, innovation, government restrictions and international currencies, polarization, managers’ overconfidence, etc.
Daniela Puzzello, professor of Economics at IU, and Tim Cason, Distinguished professor of Economics at Purdue organized the conference.
The history behind this joint conference goes back several decades as both IU and Purdue have a strong tradition in experimental economics. Experimental economics at Indiana University began in 1979 with Arlie Williams, now professor emeritus at IU. As a new assistant professor, Arlie initiated the development of a seminar course in experimental economics for honors undergraduate economics majors and graduate students. Jimmy Walker and Arlie had met in 1977 at the first conference of experimental economists in the U.S., in Tucson, Arizona. In 1984, Jimmy joined Arlie on the faculty at IU. Over the years, the scope of experimental research on the Bloomington campus grew, including collaborative research between, Jimmy, Roy Gardner, and Elinor (Lin) Ostrom. Their research on institutions and the commons was cited as part of the research contribution that led to Lin’s receiving the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009.
Among the honors undergraduates in the experimental seminar taught by Arlie and Jimmy was Tim Cason. Tim graduated from IU in 1986, went on to complete his Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley, and now leads the experimental economics group at Purdue. The Purdue experimental economics lab VSEEL (Vernon Smith Experimental Economics Laboratory) is named in honor of Vernon Smith, 2002 Nobel laureate, who started his career at Purdue University as assistant professor in 1955. Charlie Plott, another prominent experimental economist was also a professor at Purdue University from 1965-1970. Among Tim’s Ph.D. students at Purdue were Volodymyr Lugovskyy and Daniela Puzzello. Daniela and Vova now play a central role in the experimental economics groups at IU, as well as in the economic theory and international economics groups. Plans now call for hiring another experimentalist into this group this year.
The Second Annual Jordan-Wabash Conference in Experimental Economics is planned for fall 2018.