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Professor of Economics, Grinnell College

William Ferguson is the Gertrude B. Austin Professor of Economics at Grinnell College, where he has taught since 1989 and author of Collective Action and Exchange: A Game-Theoretic Approach to Contemporary Political Economy (Stanford University Press, 2013). He is past Secretary-Treasurer of the Midwest Economics Association and prior chair and founder of Grinnell’s Policy Studies Concentration. After graduating from Grinnell College in 1975, with a B.A. in history, he worked as a neighborhood community organizer in Seattle Washington until 1982, when he shifted to studying economics, receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1989. Professor Ferguson’s teaching has ranged from institutional political economy, applied game theory, and policy analysis to labor economics, British economic policy, and climate policy. His early publications focused on modeling implicit bargaining power in employment relationships. After 2008, he shifted to institutional political economy and development. While writing his 2013 book, he visited Indiana University’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, where he discussed his manuscript with the late Elinor Ostrom. His next book, The Political Economy of Collective Action, Inequality, and Development (also Stanford U. Press) will appear in May 2020. Professor Ferguson lives in Grinnell, Iowa with his wife, Claudia Beckwith. They have two children, 27-year old twins Caitlin and Taylor.


  • –present
    Professor of Economics , Grinnell College