Bengt Holmström

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Bengt Holmström
Bengt Holmström.jpg
Holmström in 2013
Bengt Robert Holmström

(1949-04-18) 18 April 1949 (age 74)
Alma materUniversity of Helsinki (BS)
Stanford University (MS, PhD)
Robert B. Wilson
Jonathan Levin[1]
AwardsNobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2016)
Holmström at Nobel prize press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, December 2016

Bengt Robert Holmström (born 18 April 1949) is a Finnish economist who is currently Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together with Oliver Hart, he received the Central Bank of Sweden Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2016.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Holmström was born in Helsinki, Finland on 18 April 1949, and belongs to the Swedish speaking minority of Finland.[3] He received his B.S. in mathematics and science from the University of Helsinki in 1972.[4] He also received a Master of Science degree in Operations Research from Stanford University in 1975.

He received his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford in 1978.[3] He moved to the United States in 1976.[5]


He worked as a corporate planner from 1972 until 1974, then was an assistant professor at the Hanken School of Economics from 1978 until 1979.[4] He served as an associate professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University (1979–1983)[4] and as the Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Management at Yale University’s School of Management (1983–1994). Holmström was elected Alumnus of The Year by the University of Helsinki Alumni Association in 2010.

He has been on the faculty of M.I.T. since 1994, when he was appointed professor of economics and management at the department of economics and Sloan School of Management.[4]

Holmström is particularly well known for his work on principal-agent theory. His work made seminal advances in understanding contracting in the presence of uncertainty.[6] More generally, he has worked on the theory of contracting and incentives especially as applied to the theory of the firm, to corporate governance and to liquidity problems in financial crises. He praised the taxpayer-backed bailouts by the US government during the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and emphasizes the benefits of opacity in the money market.[7]

Holmström was elected member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters in 1992 and an honorary member of the same society in 2016. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, the European Economic Association[8] and the American Finance Association, and a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. In 2011, he served as President of the Econometric Society. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden, the University of Vaasa and the Hanken School of Economics in Finland.

Holmström was a member of Nokia's board of directors from 1999 until 2012.[9][10] He is a member of the Board of the Aalto University.[11][5]


He was awarded the 2012 Banque de France-TSE Senior Prize in Monetary Economics and Finance, the 2013 Stephen A. Ross Prize in Financial Economics and the 2013 Chicago Mercantile Exchange – MSRI Prize for Innovative Quantitative Applications.

In 2016, Holmström won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel together with Oliver Hart "for their contributions to contract theory".[12]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Anneli Holmström[13] and they have one son.[3]


  • Holmström, Bengt, 1972. "En icke-linear lösningsmetod för allokationsproblem". University of Helsinki.
  • Holmström, Bengt, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, 10(1), pp. 74–91.
  • Holmstrom, Bengt. "Moral hazard in teams." The Bell Journal of Economics (1982): 324–340.
  • Holmstrom, Bengt. "Equilibrium long-term labor contracts." The Quarterly Journal of Economics (1983): 23–54. 23
  • Holmström, B., 1999. Managerial incentive problems: A dynamic perspective. The Review of Economic Studies, 66(1), pp. 169–182.169–182
  • Holmström, Bengt, and Paul Milgrom, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 7, 24–52.
  • Holmstrom, B. and Milgrom, P., 1994. The firm as an incentive system. The American Economic Review, pp. 972–991. 972–991.
  • Holmström, Bengt, and John Roberts, 1998. "The Boundaries of the Firm Revisited," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 12(4), pp. 73–94
  • Holmström, Bengt, and Jean Tirole, 1998. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, 106(1), pp. 1–40.


  1. ^ Levin, Jonathan David (1999). Relational contracts, incentives and information (Ph.D.). MIT. hdl:1721.1/9520.
  2. ^ Appelbaum, Binyamin (10 October 2016). "Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom Win Nobel in Economics for Work on Contracts". New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Bengt Holmström". Nobel Prize.
  4. ^ a b c d Brian Duignan. "Bengt Holmström". Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  5. ^ a b "Bengt Holmström - the deal making authority". DW.
  6. ^ "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2016". Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  7. ^ Holmström, Bengt (2015). "Understanding the role of debt in the financial system". BIS Working Papers (479). SSRN 2552018.
  8. ^ "Fellows | EEA". Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  9. ^ "The latest Nokia phones and accessories | Nokia Phones US".
  10. ^ "Nokia plans board of directors refresh, chairman to step down". Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  11. ^ Short biography, CV, and publications from MIT.
  12. ^ "Press Release: The Prize in Economic Sciences 2016". The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  13. ^ "The King's dinner for the Nobel Laureates". Swedish Royal Court. 2016.

External links[edit]

  • Bengt Holmström on Edit this at Wikidata including the Prize Lecture 8 December 2016 Pay for Performance and Beyond
Preceded by Laureate of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics
Served alongside: Oliver Hart
Succeeded by