People

Richard Robb is Professor of Professional Practice in International Finance at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, where he teaches courses in microeconomics, economic foundations of capital markets and finance. In addition, he is CEO of Christofferson, Robb and Company, a New York and London based investment management firm that invests in credit and renewable energy markets in Europe and emerging markets. Prior to arriving at SIPA in 2001, he was the global head of the derivatives and securities subsidiaries of the Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Ltd. He is the author of Wilfull: How We Choose What We Do.

Robb holds a BA from Duke University (1981) and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago (1985). His publications include "Testing the Mixture of Exponential Hypothesis and Estimating the Mixing Distribution by the Method of Moments," with James Heckman and J. R. Walker in Journal of the American Statistical Association (1990) and "Alternative Methods for Evaluating the Impact of Interventions: An Overview" with James Heckman in Journal of Econometrics (1985). 

 

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  • Willful: How We Choose What We Do

    Richard Robb
    View Summary

    Why do we do the things we do? The classical view of economics is that we are rational individuals, making decisions with the intention of maximizing our preferences. Behaviorists, on the other hand, see us as relying on mental shortcuts and conforming to preexisting biases. Richard Robb argues that neither explanation accounts for those things that we do for their own sake, and without understanding these sorts of actions, our picture of decision‑making is at best incomplete. Robb explains how these choices made seemingly without reason belong to a realm of behavior he identifies as “for‑itself.”
     
    A provocative combination of philosophy and economics that offers a key to many of our quixotic choices, this groundbreaking volume provides a new way to understand everything from investing to how hard we work to how we manage daily interactions.

    “Willful is a breakthrough in economics. Richard Robb’s tremendously insightful book shows how much of our behavior is not explained by existing theories of human action and explains in sparkling prose why understanding decisions made seemingly without reason presents a fuller picture of our world.”—Edmund S. Phelps, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Director, Center on Capitalism and Society