Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Herbert A. Simon
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1978
Born: 15 June 1916, Milwaukee, WI, USA
Died: 9 February 2001, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Prize motivation: "for his pioneering research into the decision-making process within economic organizations."
Contribution: Work in a number of fields, including the methodology of science, applied mathematical statistics, operations analysis, economics, and business administration His work is synthesized in a new theory of organizational decision-making.
Prize share: 1/1
Herbert Simon was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the United States. His mother was a pianist and his father an electrical engineer who had migrated from Germany. His maternal uncle, an economist, sparked his interest in the social sciences. He first studied at the University of Chicago and was awarded a PhD in political science in 1943. After working at the University of California, Berkeley, and then at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, he moved to Carnegie Mellon University in 1949. Herbert Simon was married with three children.
Herbert Simon combined different scientific disciplines and considered new factors in economic theories. Established economic theories held that enterprises and entrepreneurs all acted in completely rational ways, with the maximization of their own profit as their only goal. In contrast, Simon held that when making choices all people deviate from the strictly rational, and described companies as adaptable systems, with physical, personal, and social components. Through these perspectives, he was able to write about decision-making processes in modern society in an entirely new way.