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Masahiko Aoki, professor emeritus of economics, dies at age 77


(Courtesy of Rod Searcey/Stanford News Service)
(Courtesy of Rod Searcey/Stanford News Service)

Masahiko Aoki, Stanford Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Professor of Japanese Studies and professor emeritus of economics, passed away in Palo Alto on July 15, 2015, due to lung disease. Aoki was 77 years old and was also a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Born on April 1, 1938, in Nagoya in the Aichi Prefecture of Japan, Aoki attended the University of Tokyo where he received both his bachelors and masters in economics. In 1967 he graduated with his doctorate in economics from the University of Minnesota.

Aoki taught at several universities such as Harvard, Stanford and the University of Tokyo. In 1984 he joined the Stanford faculty as an economics professor and later became a professor at Kyoto University in 2001. In 2004 he returned to Stanford as an emeritus professor of economics.

Some of Aoki’s most significant contributions to both Stanford and the study of economics included founding comparative institutional analysis and developing the “theory of firm.” In his book published in 2001, “Toward a Comparative Institutional Analysis,” Aoki explored the development and change of institutional structures. His “theory of firm” allows corporations to compare their organizational structures with other similar structures in the corporate world.

Throughout his career Aoki published five books along with many other scholarly works and focused his research on the economics of East Asia, as well as comparative institutional analysis. He received multiple honors such as the Japan Academy Prize in 1990, the Hiromi Arisawa Memorial Award for the Best Book on Asia in 1990 and the Schumpeter Prize in 1998.

Aoki is survived by his two daughters, his wife and a grandchild.


Contact Citlalli Contreras at 17contreras ‘at’

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