William H. Meckling

William H. Meckling (1922 – May 15, 1998) was an American economist and professor of Management and Government Policy and Dean at the Simon Business School, University of Rochester, working in the areas of “managerial economics and the economic analysis of law, and his work received international recognition” (Source: Currents, 1998).


Meckling earned his bachelor’s degree from Westminster College in 1942, which also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1978. He earned his M.B.A. from the University of Denver in 1947, did graduate work in economics from 1949 to 1952 at the University of Chicago, and received an honorary Doctor of Social Science degree from Francisco Marroquin University in Guatemala in 1980.

During his career, Meckling served on the faculties of the University of Denver, Butler University, and the University of California at Los Angeles. Meckling was executive director of the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Forces (the “Gates Commission”), which had a dramatic impact on the termination of the draft and the institution of a realistic pay scale to attract adequate volunteers to military service. He served a six-year term on the National Science Board–the board of directors of the National Science Foundation–and was a member of the Tax Foundation, Inc. Meckling was also a member of the board of directors of Superba Cravats, and a member of the Council of New York State Economic Advisors under Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He was also president of the Center for Naval Analyses, director of its economics division, and senior economist at the RAND Corporation.

Meckling served as second dean of the Simon School, then known as the College of Business Administration and later as the Graduate School of Management, from 1964 to 1983. He led the School from a small evening and undergraduate institution to a graduate institution of national stature. Meckling began to build a powerful, influential faculty, some of whom still teach at the Simon School, and he initiated many of the School’s fundamental components: the Ph.D. Program in Business Administration and the Executive Development Program, among others. Under his leadership, the School first earned accreditation for the M.B.A. program from the AACSB–The International Association for Management Education and became a member of The Consortium For Graduate Study in Management, enhancing educational opportunities for minorities.

During his tenure as dean, Meckling was also responsible for establishing the School’s Center for Research in Government Policy and Business (now known as the Bradley Policy Research Center), which provides a public forum for continued critical examination and appraisal of a variety of public policy issues.


Meckling had research interests in the areas of managerial economics and the economic analysis of law, and his work with Michael Jensen brought the pair international recognition. They received the first Leo Melamed Prize in March 1979 for their paper, “Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs and Ownership Structure.” The Melamed Prize was established by the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business to recognize outstanding scholarship by business school faculty.

In May 1979, the Financial Analysts Federation awarded Meckling and Jensen the Graham and Dodd Plaque for their paper, “Can the Corporation Survive?,” which was judged the best manuscript published in 1978 (Financial Analysts Journal). The paper was published as the cover article in MBA Magazine, reprinted with permission by many corporations, institutions and educational organizations, and was widely quoted in the national press.