Skip to Main Content

Barbara Spencer

CEA Fellow: Barbara Spencer

Barbara J. Spencer has made extraordinary contributions to economic scholarship and to the Canadian economic profession. Her research lies at the intersection of industrial organization and international trade theory. She is best known her development, along with co-author James Brander, of the Brander-Spencer model in strategic trade policy, which integrates the Stackelberg-Cournot model of industrial organization into the theory of optimal trade policy. Other important contributions include the analysis of vertical contractual relations, keiretsu and joint ventures.

Barbara Spencer's research has been published in top-ranked journals including the Review of Economic Studies, the International Economic Review, and the Journal of International Economics. In recognition of her research excellence, she received, together with James Brander, the Harry Johnson Award for the best published paper in the Canadian Journal of Economics in 1981. In February 2000 she and James Brander were celebrated as authors of the most cited paper in the 30-year history of the Journal of International Economics.

The professionalism Barbara Spencer brings to her research extends to every aspect of her academic life. She has been an Associate Editor of the American Economic Review and the Journal of international Economics, and she has held positions on numerous other editorial boards. She provided strong leadership as President of the Canadian Economics Association. Barbara Spencer has also served as a mentor and role model for generations of younger economists. Her 2002 Canadian Women Economist Network luncheon address, describing the outright discrimination she faced as a young economist, was genuinely inspiring.

Last but not least, Barbara Spencer is a great teacher. She also has a long list of doctoral students who she supervised and lifted into their academic careers. Over the years she has instilled her students with a sense of economic thinking.

Barbara Spencer holds a Bachelor's degree in economics from Australian National University and a Masters from Monash University. She earned her doctorate at Carnegie-Mellon under the supervision of Ed Prescott, Finn Kydland, and Thomas Romer. Her professorial career has taken her from the University of Manitoba to Boston College and eventually to UBC's Sauder School of Business, where she is now the Asia Pacific Chair in International Trade Policy (Emeritus).

It is with great pleasure that we recognize Barbara Spencer's many contributions by naming her a Fellow of the Canadian Economics Association.