Avner Ben-Ner

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

About Avner

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 & Activities.

Browse some of my work and see what I’ve been up to.

  • 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

  • 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)
  • 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)
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