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6th Annual Condliffe Memorial Lecture


Tue 13 Apr 2010, 5:30pm–7:30pm

Where: Coppertop. Level 2 Commerce Building., University of Canterbury. Commerce Building, Christchurch

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

You are warmly invited to attend the 6th Annual Condliffe Memorial Lecture, ‘The Emergence of Economics as a Laboratory Science’ delivered by Charles R Plott - Edward S. Harkness Professor of Economics and Political Science at the California Institute of Technology.

Tuesday 13th April 2010, 5.30- 6.30pm at Coppertop, Level 2 Commerce Building at the University of Canterbury.

Why do apparently ‘rational’ markets generate speculative bubbles that end in crashes? What is the best way to design environmental management systems for allocating scarce water resources or limiting carbon emissions?

Traditionally, economists have relied on analysing the past behaviour of individuals and organisations to establish the links between cause and effect. In recent decades, however, economists have begun to use 'laboratory experiments’, in which human subjects are placed in a controlled (usually virtual) environment to study their responses to different incentives and institutional arrangements. With carefully designed experiments, economists can investigate and shed new light on a range of complex, real world issues. This lecture, by one of the world’s foremost exponents of ‘experimental economics’, will explore the development of this exciting new methodology and illustrate its numerous applications to solving pressing economic and environmental problems.

The lecture will be followed by an opportunity for questions and refreshments.

Due to the expected popularity of this lecture and limited seating, prompt RSVP is essential.

RSVP by Friday 9th April to; or telephone: 03 364 3882 to confirm your attendance

Parking available in the Zoology car park adjacent to the Commerce Building on Forestry Road, off Creyke Road. Further parking information can be found at:

Professor Charles R. Plott is a founder and Director of Caltech’s Laboratory for Economics and Political Science. Dr. Plott’s research is focused on the basic principles of process performance and the use of those principles in the design of decentralised, electronic processes to solve complex problems.

The contributions include over 180 scientific papers, the development of widely applied laboratory tools, and participation in the design and implementation of computerised market mechanisms for allocating complex items (such as the markets for pollution permits in Southern California, the FCC auction of licenses for Personal Communication Systems, the auctions for electric power in California, the allocation of landing rights at the major U.S. airports, access of private trains to public railway tracks, access to natural gas pipelines, and the application of complex procurements).

Prof. Plott is the discoverer of the ability of markets to collect and aggregate information and his recent research is focused on information aggregation mechanisms (sometimes called “prediction markets”).

Prof. Plott is a member of the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Science and the Fellows of the Econometric Society. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Senior Scholar, and a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioural Sciences and he was recently elected as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economics Association.

He holds a PhD degree in Economics from the University of Virginia and an MS and BS at Oklahoma State University along with honorary doctorate degrees from L'université Pierre Mendès France and from Purdue University.