A Delightful (Informal) Romp Through Implementation Theory

As an undergraduate suffering through a graduate PhD micro course, I recall my professor bringing up the “hot new thing” that was implementation theory. I tried hard at the time to ascertain what this literature was.

The other day a colleague of mine mentioned that he was relieved by the direction network economics as going, with more applied studies and an increasing number of empirically-grounded studies. “If that hadn’t happened,” he said, “it may have gone the way of implementation theory.”

With that, it hit me: what the hell happened to implementation theory? So I tweeted into the Econ Twitter black hole.

And received this patient reply from good ol’ Ben Golub:

Thus starts his thread with a fantastic piece by Matt Jackson (of current network theory fame): A Crash Course in Implementation Theory (2001). Which is a glimpse into the (then) state of the art.

Jackson, M. O. (2001). A crash course in implementation theory. Social Choice and Welfare, 18(4), 655–708. [Ungated: link]

With a also a little lit review.

The two articles are from Matt Jackson (1992), and Maskin and Jean Tirole (1999):

Jackson, M. O. (1992). Implementation in Undominated Strategies: A Look at Bounded Mechanisms. The Review of Economic Studies, 59(4), 757–775. [Ungated: Link]

Maskin, E., & Tirole, J. (1999). Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts. The Review of Economic Studies, 66(1), 83–114. [Ungated: Link]

But Ben then gives a nice synopsis of what happened.