Saturday, August 15, 2015

Good bye to a scholar I admired

I am told by Miguel A. García Cestona, one of his disciples, that Japanese economist Masahiko Aoki of Stanford University has died at age 77. I ignore the circumstances of his death at this stage, but I can imagine him active until the very end. He had worked extensively on expanding the frontier of economics and social science. Although his field of expertise was initially on the institutions of economic organization and corporate governance, he expanded his interests to economic history and other fields, always combining advanced game theory with an incredibly precise knowledge of context and institutions. I always have papers and books of him around. The last one I was reading it just a couple of days ago, giving a game theoretic interpretation to the work of Douglas North. His main contribution was perhaps to stress the importance of the links between different domain games, for example the link between economic and social life to achieve cooperation, as explained in his book "Toward a Comparative Institutional Analysis." In his work on the long run development of Asian economies, he linked politics, economics and sociology in insightful ways. He will be an example of deep interdisciplinary work for generations to come. In his most recent articles and books, I preceived an attempt to explain the importance of cognitive and linguistic aspects in the development of institutions. I also found very useful a paper he wrote on the institutional architecture of the regulation of nuclear energy in Japan, in a piece proposed in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident. I am of course not the most qualified person to write on his work, and I am sure that in the immediate future we'll read much better and extensive comments about the work and life of this amazing scholar.

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