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Joanne Roberts

Submitted by srtariqu on Sat, 03/15/2014 - 4:03pm

Joanne Roberts is the Canada Research Chair in the Economics of Organizations.  Her research focuses on how economics — and incentives — can help to better understand institutions and organizations. Social, educational, and legal institutions interact in fundamentally important ways with incentives.  Assessing these interactions, which can be quite subtle, is important for understanding how well an institution works, whether its institutional design is optimal and to evaluate policy options.

 Joanne has engaged in a number of very different but ultimately related projects, all aiming to better understand how information is used within institutions. For example, Do performance measures in the public sector create the right incentives?  In both Canada and the United States there has been a push for increasing accountability of public sector institutions. She has explored how changing incentive schemes may alter incentives other than those targeted and may lead to some potentially unexpected and unintended outcomes.  In other research, she has looked at legal institutions in particular. Her work has explored the parole system - including time to parole, parole itself, and how it gives incentives to people to undertake rehabilitation, how the parole process interacts with initial sentencing, and how then we could think of optimal parole systems. Recently, she has been working on tax evasion incentives -- how different types of tax evasion interact, and how tax evasion incentives are connected to the existence and supply of undocumented workers. Her work offers important insights into the design of institutions. 

Joanne grew up on a dairy farm in southwestern Ontario.  She did her graduate studies at Queen’s University, and held a faculty position at the University of Toronto for nine years before joining the University of Calgary in 2008. She has served on the Canadian Economic Association executive, been president of the Canadian Economics Women’s Network, and served as a co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Economics. Joanne is currently the Graduate Program Director in the department.

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