Professor, UCSD

Dept. of Economics
UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
watsonvs [at] (for instructional matters)
jwatson [at] (main)

CEO, Econ Job Market®

3268 Governor Dr. # 328
San Diego, CA 92122

Joel Watson is a Professor in the Economics Department at the University of California, San Diego. His research examines how contractual relationships are formed and managed, as well as the role of institutions in facilitating contracts and enforcement, using game-theoretic models. Watson’s work addresses topics in a variety of applied areas, including law and economics, macroeconomics, labor economics, international economics, and environmental economics. He has authored numerous technical papers and a popular textbook on game theory (Strategy: An Introduction to Game Theory). Watson obtained his B.A. from UCSD and his Ph.D. from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He spent two years at Oxford’s Nuffield College before returning to UCSD as a faculty member. Watson has also had several visiting appointments at Yale University over the years and was Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in 2012-2013. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society.
Watson has extensive experience and a record of leadership in administration, instruction, and professional service. As Chairperson of the Economics Department at the University of California, San Diego from 2006 until 2008, he managed about 70 faculty, staff, and lecturers, and he oversaw some of UCSD's most popular undergraduate major programs. Watson has served as the chair of UCSD's Campus and Community Planning Committee, which advises on campus physical planning including project site selection and design. Watson has been instrumental in furthering interdisciplinary research and instruction, in particular in the collaboration between UCSD's Economics Department and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He has been part of the leadership team at the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and was co-director of the Program for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research. Watson is also a pedagogical innovator, in particular with respect to video presentations and hybrid class formats. He devised, managed the development of, and contributed many lectures to the Intermediate Microeconomics Video Handbook; he manages the development of the Econometrics Video Handbook, and is also developing the Game Theory Video Handbook. Watson received the UC San Diego Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in 2019 and was given the Economics Department’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction in 2010 and again in 2019.
On the professional side, Watson co-founded and serves as the CEO of Econ Job Market®, a non-profit charitable (501c3) corporation that provides a central electronic repository for advertisements and application materials (including application forms, candidate-provided documents, and letters of recommendation) in the economics Ph.D. job market. He also has served in an editorial capacity for four technical journals.

Curriculum Vitae



  • Professor, University of California, San Diego, 2002-present.
  • Christensen Fellow, St. Catherine's College, Oxford University, Spring (Trinity) 2025.
  • Official Visitor, Nuffield College, Oxford University, Spring (Trinity) 2024.
  • Visiting Professor, Humanities and Social Science, California Institute of Technology, Fall 2014.
  • Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, class of 2012-2013.
  • Visiting Scholar, Economics, University of Southern California, Fall 2011.
  • Visiting Professor, Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Fall 2010.
  • Visiting Professor, Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Fall 2009.
  • Chairperson, Department of Economics, University of California, San Diego, 2006-2008.
  • Visiting Fellow, Corporate Law Center, Yale Law School, 2006.
  • Associate Professor, University of California, San Diego, 1998-2002.
  • Visiting Professor, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, 2000.
  • Visiting Professor, Cowles Foundation, Yale University, 1998-1999.
  • Assistant Professor, Economics, University of California, San Diego, 1994-1998.
  • Prize Research Fellow, Nuffield College, Oxford University, 1992-1994.
  • Junior Dean, Nuffield College, 1993.
  • Visiting Lecturer, University of California, San Diego, Summer 1993.
  • Consultant/Intern, The RAND Corporation, 1991-1992.
  • Clerk, Wright and L'Estrange (a San Diego corporate law firm), 1985-1989.


  • Ph.D., Economics, Graduate School of Business Stanford University, June 1992.
  • B.A., Economics, University of California, San Diego, March 1988.
  • M.A. Oxford University (Honorary), November 1992.


  • PI, UCSD Course Development and Instructional Improvement Program grant, "Game Theory Video Handbook - Phase 1," 2018-2019.
  • Co-PI, University of California Office of the President, Innovative Learning Technology Initiative grant 03242017, "Econometrics Video Handbook," 2017-2019.
  • PI, UCSD Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program (to support graduate student Isla Globus-Harris), 2015-2016.
  • Co-PI, University of California Office of the President, Innovative Learning Technology Initiative grant 20140207, "Intermediate Microeconomics Video Handbook," 2014-2016.
  • PI, National Science Foundation award SES-1227527, "Contractual Chains and Related Work," 2012-2014.
  • Co-PI, National Science Foundation IGERT grant, "Global Change, Marine Ecosystems, and Society," 2009-2014.
  • PI, Southern California Innovation Project grant, "Contract Interpretation by External Enforcers," with Alan Schwartz, 2009-2010.
  • PI, Southern California Innovation Project grant, "Client-Based Entrepreneurship," with Jim Rauch, 2009-2010.
  • Various contracts/grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Southwest Fisheries Science Center), 2008-2012.
  • Co-PI, Japanese Banker's Association grant (with Makoto Shimoji), 2004.
  • PI, National Science Foundation grant SES-0095207, "Layered Contract, Enforcement Institutions, and Intermediaries," 2001-2002.
  • Co-PI, National Science Foundation grant SBR-9975277, "Contracts, Relationships, and Real Activities," with Garey Ramey and Wouter den Haan,1999-2000.
  • PI, National Science Foundation grant SBR-9630270, "Markets and Institutions: A Matching Approach," with Garey Ramey, 1996-1998.
  • PI, National Science Foundation grant SBR-9422196, "The Dynamics of Relationships with Incomplete Information," 1995-1996.

Significant Professional Distinctions and Service

  • Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer,, a non-profit/tax-exempt charitable organization that provides a central repository for advertisements, applications, and letters of recommendation for the economics Ph.D. job market.
  • Fellow of the Econometric Society, elected 2011.
  • Referee: American Economic Review, American Journal of Political Science, Econometrica, Economic Design, Economic Journal, European Economic Review, European Journal of Political Economy, Games and Economic Behavior, International Economic Review, International Journal of Game Theory, International Journal of Industrial Organization, Italian Ministry for Education University and Research, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, Journal of International Economics, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Journal of Political Economy, Mathematical Social Sciences, Rand Journal of Economics, Review of Economic Dynamics, Review of Economic Studies, Social Choice and Welfare, the National Science Foundation, and various book publishers.
  • Co-editor, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2012-2017.
  • Advisory Editor, Games and Economic Behavior, 2005-2015.
  • Co-editor, The B.E. Journals in Theoretical Economics, 2004-2007.
  • Editorial Board Member, The International Journal of Game Theory, 2003-2006.
  • Editorial Board Member, The B.E. Journals in Theoretical Economics, 2000-2004.
  • Program Organizer (Economics), First World Congress of the Game Theory Society.
  • Organizer and Program Director, 33rd International Conference of the Stony Brook Game-Theory Festival, 2022.
  • Co-organizer/Program Director, various local conferences.
  • Past/Present Member, Econometric Society, Game Theory Society, American Law and Economics Association and American Economic Association.



(All coauthors are listed in alphabetical order, regardless of relative contributions. Please contact Watson for more information.)

Current Projects

Published Books

  • Strategy: An Introduction to Game Theory, Third Edition, New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2013. (This edition contains substantial new material and solutions to selected exercises.) Second Edition published 2007. First Edition Published 2002.
  • Instructor's Manual for Strategy, available from W. W. Norton and Company, 2002, 2008, 2013.

Published Papers



Strategy: An Introduction to Game Theory

The perfect balance of readability and formalism.





The third edition of this successful text is even more student-friendly than before. A number of sections have been added, and numerous chapters substantially revised. The book contains dozens of new exercises along with solutions to selected exercises. Chapters are short and focused, with just the right amount of mathematical content and end-of-chapter exercises. New passages walk students through tricky topics.

For more information, visit the W.W. Norton and Company website by clicking here or call (800) 233-4830. To contact your local W.W. Norton representative, call (800) 353-9909 or click here.

Video Lectures


Video Handbooks

Starting in 2014 and working with Melissa Famulari and other UCSD colleagues, Watson developed the innovative video-handbook concept and created a comprehensive set of video lectures for intermediate microeconomics, the Intermediate Microeconomics Video Handbook (IMVH). Subsequently, Watson and colleagues developed the Econometrics Video Handbook (EVH) and on his own Watson developed the Game Theory Video Handbook (GTVH). Below is more information about these handbooks and instructions for accessing them.

Microeconomics and Econometrics Video Handbooks

The IMVH and EVH are utilized for core microeconomics, core econometrics, and elective courses across the University of California and are also available for use at other universities. For more information, follow this link to the video handbook page at the UCSD Economics Department.





Game Theory Video Handbook

Watson's Game Theory Video Handbook, continually under development, provides instruction at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is utilized for undergraduate game-theory courses and the core graduate Ph.D. sequence. For more information, follow this link to the IMVH page at the UCSD Economics Department.





Other Video Lectures

Additional video lectures are posted below. Some of these will eventually be edited and added to the GTVH. All videos are copyrighted by Joel Watson as of 2014-2021.

For Graduate Students and Researchers
Series on Dynamic Games and Perfect Bayesian Equilibrium

  1. Notation for Strategy
  2. Strategies, Paths, and Product Sets
  3. Distributions and Independence
  4. Appraisals (Beliefs and Action Plans)
  5. Sequential Best Response
  6. Examples of Appraisal Systems, Minimal Consistency, and Sequential Rationality
  7. Overview of Appraisal-Based Solution Concepts
  8. Independence and Updating on Conjunctive Events
  9. Examples of Independence in Restrictions and Appraisals
  10. Perfect Bayesian Equilibrium
  11. Examples of Perfect Bayesian Equilibrium
  12. Mutual Perfect Bayesian Equilibrium.

Econ Job Market (EJM)


In 2007, Watson (with John Rust and Martin Osborne) founded the 501(c)3 charity Econ Job Market®


EJM improves the flow of information in the job market for academic economists by providing a central repository for application materials and recommendation letters (at and encouraging interoperability between the various recruitment systems that recruiters use. Watson is EJM's CEO and manages operations with officers John Rust, Martin Osborne, and Michael Peters.



Watson is available for business and legal consulting in the following areas of expertise: Strategic Management, Contract Design and Implementation, Market Design and Pricing, and Instructional Methods and Media. To contact Dr. Watson, send an email to joel [at]