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Avner Ben-Ner

Department of Work and Organizations


  • BA 1975
    Economics and Philosophy Ben Gurion Univ.

  • MA 1978
    Economics State Univ. of New York-Stony Brook

  • PhD 1981
    Economics State Univ. of New York-Stony Brook


  • Organization structure, behavior and performance
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Nonprofit organizations

Avner Ben-Ner is Professor in the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies in the Carlson School of Management and Affiliated Professor in the Law School at the University of Minnesota. 

His principal contributions to scholarship concern theoretical examinations of the reasons for coexistence of different types of organization in the mixed economy. He analyzed theoretically the reasons why producer cooperatives, employee buy-outs and nonprofit organizations exist alongside private for-profit firms and public organizations. He emphasized that various organizations in the social economy represent collective responses to diverse problems of asymmetric information between workers and management and between consumers and sellers. His theoretical investigations were followed by empirical studies.

Another strand of his work concerns the comparative structure and performance of nonprofit organizations, producer cooperatives, government organizations and for-profit firms, to which he made recent theoretical and empirical contributions. He has written several articles that concern the optimal design of firms relative to their technologies and business strategies. In his theoretical and empirical work, he has shown the importance of balancing various components of organization design, particularly the allocation of decision-making, types and strength of incentives and monitoring, and adjusting them to firm circumstances, particularly technology and strategy. He has also studied empirically the effect of computer-based technology on the evolution of various skills, from the 1970s to the present.

Professor Ben-Ner has also been working on behavioral economics, and has done theoretical and experimental research on cooperation, trust, identity, giving by children relative to parents, and values. He currently works on projects related to diversity in organizations and society. His favorite current research examines the relationship between team composition in Bundesliga teams in all the soccer (futbol) games that took place during the 2000s, evaluating factors that affect player and team performance. He is happy to present this project at departmental workshops and seminars.

His contributions appeared in economics, law, management and psychology journals, including the Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, American Economic Review, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Yale Law Journal, The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Industrial Relations, Journal of Economic Psychology, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Personality and Individual Differences, PLOS ONE and more, and has written and coedited several books.

Avner has served in various academic administration and faculty governance roles, and was President of the Association for Comparative Economic Studies and Chair of the Public and Nonprofit Division of the Academy of Management. He has been a regular or visiting professor at Yale, University of California at Davis, University of Haifa, Stony Brook (where he also received his Ph.D. in economics), Tel-Aviv University and Central European University. He has taught short courses in China, South Korea, France, India and Poland.

Selected Works

Economics, Values, and Organization, (ed.), with L. Putterman, Cambridge University Press, 1998, 2001 (PB), 2005 (Peking U Press)
"Reflections on the future evolution of social, nonprofit and cooperative enterprise," Avner Ben-Ner, Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Vol. 89,1, 2018
"Does Ownership Matter in the Selection of Service Providers? Evidence from Nursing Home Consumer Surveys,” Avner Ben-Ner, Darla Hamann and Ting Ren, WP September 2017 (R&R)
"Decentralization and Localization of Production: The Organizational and Economic Consequences of Additive Manufacturing," Avner Ben-Ner and Enno Siemsen, California Management Review, 2017 (lead article).
"Identifying Intricately-Woven Endogenous and Exogenous Peer Effects in a Team with Specialized Roles: A Panel Study of Soccer Players and Teams," Akinori Kitsuki and Avner Ben-Ner. WP, November 2017.
"Bifurcated Effects of Place-of-Origin Diversity on Individual and Team Performance: Evidence from 10 Seasons of German Soccer," Avner Ben-Ner, John-Gabriel Licht and Jin Park, Industrial Relations, October 2017 (lead article)
"Mission Congruence and Organization Design: An Empirical Analysis, Marco A. Barranechea-Mendez and Avner Ben-Ner, July 2017, Industrial Relations
"The Bright and Dark Sides of Altruism, Avner Ben-Ner and Fantingyu Hu, in The Economics of Philanthropy," edited by Kimberley Scharf and Mirco Tonin, MIT Press, 2017
"How much to donate, and to whom? The effects of framing of charitable solicitations on moral judgment," Avner Ben-Ner, Weiwen Leung, and Xiaoyong Xu December 2017
"Learned Generosity? An Experiment on Social Preferences and Parental Influence in Preschoolers," Avner Ben-Ner, John List, Louis Putterman and Anya Samek, July 2017, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
"Is Altruism (Always) Good for Society? The Problem of Particularistic Giving in a Diverse Society," Avner Ben-Ner, WP, June 2016.
"Comparing Workplace Organization Design Based on Form of Ownership: Nonprofit, For-Profit and Local Government," Avner Ben-Ner and Ting Ren, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, April 2015 vol. 44 no. 2, 340-359
"Treadmill Workstations: The Effects of Walking while Working on Physical Activity and Work Performance," Avner Ben-Ner, Darla Hamman, Gabriel Koepp, Chimnay Manohar and James Levine, PLOS ONE, February 2014
"Preferences and Organizational Structure: Towards Behavioral Economics Micro-Foundations of Organizational Analysis," Avner Ben-Ner, Journal of Socio-Economics, 46 (2013) 87-96
"The Contributions of Behavioral Economics to Understanding and Advancing the Sustainability of Worker Cooperatives," Avner Ben-Ner and Matthew Ellman, Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, 2013
"The Effects of Organization Design on Employee Preferences," Avner Ben-Ner and Matthew Ellman, ch. 12 in Towards a New Theory of the Firm: Humanizing the Firm and the Management Profession, Joan Enric Ricart Costa and Josep Maria Rosanas Marti, eds., Fundacion BBVA 2012:401-420.
"Uncertainty, Task Environment, and Organization Design: An Empirical Investigation," Avner Ben-Ner, Fanmin Kong and Stephanie Lluis, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 82(1), April 2012:281-313
"Learning: What and How? An Empirical Study of Adjustments in Workplace Organization Structure," Avner Ben-Ner and Stephanie Lluis, Industrial Relations, January 2011, vol. 50(1):76-108.
"Personality and Altruism in the Dictator Game: Relationship to Giving to Kin, Collaborators, Competitors, and Neutrals," Appendix. Avner Ben-Ner and Amit Kramer, Personality and Individual Differences, 2011
"A Sectoral Comparison of Wage Levels and Wage Inequality in Human Services Industries," Avner Ben-Ner, Darla Flint Paulson and Ting Ren, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 2011
"Trusting and Trustworthiness: What Are They, How to Measure Them, and What Affects Them?" Avner Ben-Ner and Freyr Halldorsson, Journal of Economic Psychology, 2010, 31(1):64-79.
"Trust, Communication and Contracts: An Experiment," with Louis Putterman, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2009
"Identity and In-group/Out-group Differentiation in Work and Giving Behaviors: Experimental Evidence," Avner Ben-Ner, Brian McCall, Massoud Stephane and Hua Wang, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. 2009, 72(1), pp. 153-170.
"Reciprocity in a Two-Part Dictator Game," with L. Putterman, F. Kong, D. Magan, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2004
"The Shifting Boundaries of the Mixed Economy and the Future of the Nonprofit Sector," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 2002,
"Employee Buyout in a Bargaining Game with Asymmetric Information," with B. Jun, American Economic Review, 1996
"Employee Participation, Ownership, and Productivity: A Theoretical Framework," with D. Jones, Industrial Relations, 1995
"Who Benefits from the Nonprofit Sector? Reforming Law and Public Policy Towards Nonprofit Organizations," Yale Law Journal, 1994
"Basic Issues in Organizations: A Comparative Perspective," with J. Montias and E. Neuberger, Journal of Comparative Economics, 1993

Current Activities

Current Research

    • Structure and performance in for-profit, nonprofit and government organizations
    • The role of identity, personality, cognitive ability, ethics and values, and of social, religious, and cultural influences on trust and cooperation, behavior and organizational design.
    • Human resource management and firm performance
    • The place of the for-profit, nonprofit, and government sectors in the new economy


Editorial Appointments

  • Editorial Board of Nonprofit Management and Leadership; Division of Labor and Transaction Costs; Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity

Research Grants

    • Research Grant, "A Comparative Study of Organizational Structure, Behavior and Performance in For-Profit Firms, Government Organizations, and Nonprofit Organizations", Aspen Institute ($150,000), 2005-2007
    • Determinants of Trusting and Trustworthiness: Laboratory Experiments?: The Russell Sage Foundation ($84,000; with Louis Putterman)

Scholarly Service

    • Member of Faculty Consultative Committee, University of Minnesota, 2011-2014
    • Program Chair for Public and Nonprofit Division of Academy of Management, 2011
    • Affiliated Professor, University of Minnesota Law School
    • Past President, Association for Comparative Economic Studies
    • Two articles reprinted in The International Library of Critical Writings in Economics series, Edward Elgar Publishing (1996, 2004)
    • Listed in Who's Who in Economics (Edward Elgar, Third Edition, 1999)