Douglas W. Allen
Department of Economics
Simon Fraser University
Philosophy of Research:
I became interested in economics when I
discovered that the principle of substitution could explain much of the
traffic patterns I observed on the freeway driving to and from school.
I became fascinated in economics when I discovered that economics could
explain real puzzles of human behavior. In my research I've simply
these steps: I see behavior that I find puzzling, I
to think up a simple explanation, and then I try to test my idea. By
being unconcerned with "efficiency" and passing judgement on the world
around me, I've managed to find some nuggets ignored by others. On the
other hand, my inability to specialize by topic (I've written
on marriage, divorce, sex, farming,
the military, the church, dueling, gold mining, legal
regulations, etc.) means I'm constantly having to learn
institutional details. Although, it appears
that my interests are all
the map, from a theoretical point of view virtually all that I do is
the outgrowth of my 1991
article on transaction costs (available HERE), which all began with my
reading of Coase as an undergraduate.
The secret to doing research, however, is to be relaxed with your messy
- Ph.D. (1988), Economics, University of Washington
Fields: Price Theory, Industrial Organization
Supervisor: Dr. Yoram Barzel
- M.A. (1984), Economics, Simon Fraser University
- B.A. (hons.) (1983), Economics and Business Administration,
Simon Fraser University
Here is a detailed list of my publications: CV
And for those really interested, here is my Google
Part of becoming an "old academic" is the desire to write books. In
2002 I co-authored The Nature
of the Farm with Dean Lueck. Dean was responsible for the
brilliant title, and the book was the culmination of our long
collaboration on farm
The biggest problem in coming to production was the cover design. I
wanted the following picture:
Sure, its a
picture of my cousin in the 1950s, but look at the rain
cloud in the back. That's Nature! Instead we ended up with a picture of
an unknown field, with a sickly mustard color for background.
hope people don't judge a book by its cover. Dean always
says that having a
co-author is like being married. Here's a picture of the couple when
they weren't fighting.
My most recent book is based on my years of historical research. I
loved history as a teenager, but for some reason turned away from it as
an undergrad and grad student. When I first became a professor I
started to dabble in historical episodes just as a relief from my other
works. It was all ad hoc, but a lot of fun. At some point I started to
realize that I'd stumbled on a great institutional shift. No doubt
others knew about it earlier, but given my approach to institutions I
felt I had an original take on the puzzle. The result of all this was
Published by the University
of Chicago, I lobbied hard for a better cover than the farm book. When
I showed the farm cover to my editor David Pervin, his response was "Oh
my, we'd never do something like that to you." I love the cover
of this new book, and indeed, I think the entire feel of this book is
well done. The book came out November 2011. It was my first attempt at
an academic book with a broad appeal.
Since these pages are basically a brag sheet anyway, I'll include
a picture of me with my Dean's medal. The problem with winning
- University Teaching Award 2009, (SFU)
- Burnaby Mountain Endowed Professor, 2000 (SFU).
- Dean's Silver Medal for Outstanding Academic Service, 2000
- Henry Buechel Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1988 (UW).
- Western Econoimc Association Graduate Paper Prize, 1983.
a silver medal is that everyone thinks you came in second place!
The man on the left is Charles Crawford, an evolutionary psychologist.
He's a great academic interested in trying to figure out why things
are the way they are. He's also a big supporter of the university
community, and has inspired me to get involved with convocation
Below is a picture of me in my regalia garb.
First, my teeth are whiter than they appear in this picture!
Second, you've got to admit ... its a nice hat.
Believe it or not, Simon Fraser University is actually named after a
real person ... Simon Fraser! The university has in it's possession his
actual battle sword. Not much of a sword by Excalibur standards, but
it's the closest I'll ever get to the real thing. Unfortunately, they
never let me carry it during the ceremonies. If you look in the picture
below, at the very front of the line there's a lady in a kilt and white
sox holding the sword. I'm standing inbetween the lady in blue and the
first red robe. I think
I was bugging the sword lady too much and the lady in blue (Marilyn
has come over to keep me in line.
Here's another picture of me in the graduation ceremony, no sword in
After years of dutiful service, I was finally asked if I would carry
the SFU Mace. "Great" I thought, "I'm one step closer to the Sword."
Little did I realize that the Mace bearer is at the END of the
line, far away from the sword. I think they put me there for a reason!
Here I am getting my lecture from Miss Redekop (which,
interestingly, is the same name as the Kindergarten teacher my
children had). "Don't hit anyone with the Mace!" She's saying.
Here I am walking with the Chairman of the BOG. "Whatever you do" he's
"Don't goose anyone with the antlers on the Mace." Notice how far the
president is from me in the back. Miss Redekop has warned him.
well there you have it. I didn't hit anyone. The bloody thing weighs
about 50 pounds though. It was extremely hot that day and I had to hold
it in front of me, in front of the crowd, during the singing of
O'Canada. Let's just say I had to throw the shirt away when I got back