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Professor Robin Mason

Professor Robin Mason

Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean, Professor of Economics


Building:One 3.06

Robin Mason joined the University of Exeter Business School as Professor of Economics in 2009, having previously been the Eric Roll Professor of Economics and Head of Economics at the University of Southampton. He gained his PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is a fellow of the CEPR and a Reporting Panel Member and a Specialist Member on the Communications Act Panel of the Competition Commission. His academic research concentrates on how firms respond strategically to uncertainty; and, more broadly, the incentives faced by economic agents in situations when they have imperfect information about their environment. While his research is theoretical in nature, it is motivated by the applied problems that he encounters while advising regulators and companies. In particular, much of his work is based on situations he has encountered when thinking about the communications and media industries. He has acted as advisor to a number of regulators, in both the UK and internationally, to the Prime Minister of Mauritius on competition policy, and a number of private-sector companies.

Nationality: UK / Canadian


BA, PhD (Cantab), MA (Oxon)



Research interests

  • Applied microeconomic theory
  • Industrial organisation
  • Uncertainty and learning

Professor Mason's research interests lie in applied microeconomics, and industrial organisation in particular. His research has two major themes.

The first is optimal stopping problems, which include a range of economic problems such as investment under uncertainty, job search with variable employment opportunities, and selling with unknown demand. In all of these situations, an economic agent faces a trade-off between exploration - waiting for better information in the future - and exploitation - taking what is available now. Crucially, in many of these situations, the economic agent is able to influence the amount of information it receives: it can experiment as it explores. The first stages of this research programme are funded by the ESRC.

The second theme of Professor Mason's research is concerned with understanding situations of economic relevance that have indeterminate outcomes. More precisely, when do economic models have a definite (unique) prediction about how economic agents will behave, and when are they able only to say that a number of outcomes are possible? Professor Mason's work has established sufficient conditions on economic interactions to ensure that there is a definite prediction from economic models. His work has highlighted the role of dynamics, and heterogeneity between economic agents.

Research projects

Professor Mason currently supervises three PhD students, working in a range of areas dealing with incentives and information and learning. This is also the area of focus for his current work, funded by the ESRC.

Awards and Honours

    • 2008-10: Economic and Social Research Council Research Grant
    • 2006-08: Co-investigator on Grid Economics and Business Models funded by EU FP6 Project Reference: 033634
    • 2005-10: Co-investigator on Market-based control of complex computational systems funded by EPSRC
    • 2002-05: Economic and Social Research Council Research Fellowship; rated outstanding
    • 2000-01: Competition Models of Internet Charging Schemes, as part of the m3i project, funded by British Telecom and EU RTD Project No IST-1999-11429
    • 1994-95: An Economic Approach to the Problem of Toxic Waste, funded by the European Commission
    • 1993-94: Economic Analysis for Environmental Toxicology, funded by the European Science Foundation

  • External positions

      • Member of the Competition Commission
      • Research Fellow, Centre for Economic Policy Research
      • Member of the ESRC Research Grants Board; Chair of the First Grants Board 2009-2010
      • Associate editor of the Journal of Industrial Economics

  • All areas of microeconomics and industrial organisation
  • Strategy and games

Professor Mason has taught at all levels - from first year undergraduates to advanced PhD-level courses, MBAs, executives and civil servants. And he has taught a very wide range of topics, including introductory statistics, macroeconomic principles, microeconomics of all sorts, and advanced game theory.

Professor Mason says he sees teaching "as an essential activity for an academic. Universities do two things: research and teaching; it is the combination of the two that distinguishes universities from think tanks and schools. I find that teaching forces me to be clear in my own mind about the basics of the subject. I like students who are not afraid to ask obvious questions; often, they are the ones that are the most fundamental."

Taught modules