Robert Helsley is Dean of UBC Sauder School of Business and Grosvenor Professor of Cities, Business Economics and Public Policy. He joined UBC Sauder School of Business as Dean on July 1, 2012.
Prior to becoming Dean, he served as Senior Associate Dean, Faculty and Research from 2002 to 2008, Director of the UBC Centre for Real Estate and Urban Economics, and Chair of the Urban Land Economics division.
A key figure in leading UBC Sauder to its current level of prominence, Helsley managed initiatives to significantly renew and expand the school’s academic staff and played a central role in the revitalization of the school’s teaching facilities on the UBC campus.
Between 2008 and 2012, before returning to UBC Sauder, Helsley served at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley as a Professor and Chair in Real Estate Development, and was the Co-chair of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics.
He completed an MA and PhD in Economics at Princeton University, and a BS in Economics and Mathematics at the University of Oregon. He has published widely in the areas of urban and public economics, real estate and public policy.
"Innovations that find their origins at the school are the result of individual efforts. Our role is to provide an environment of exploration and collaboration that gives the brilliant people at Sauder and our extended community the guidance, support and resources needed for success today and throughout their lives."
Select journal publications
- “Coagglomeration, clusters and the scale and composition of cities,” with W.C. Strange, Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming.
- “Social networks and interactions in cities,” with Y. Zenou, Journal of Economic Theory, 150, pp. 426-466, 2014.
- "Entrepreneurs and cities: Complexity, thickness and balance," with W.C. Strange, Regional Science and Urban Economics, 41, pp. 550-559, 2011.
- “Sprawl and blight,” with J.K. Brueckner, Journal of Urban Economics, 69, pp. 205-213, 2011.
- "A game-theoretic analysis of skyscrapers," with W.C. Strange, Journal of Urban Economics, 64, pp. 49-64, 2008.
- "Agglomeration, Opportunism and the Organization of Production," with W.C. Strange, Journal of Urban Economics, 62, pp. 55-75, 2007.
Dean Helsley’s research focuses on the growth and development of urban areas, the operation of private land markets, and the economic impacts of government tax, spending and regulatory policies.
Much of his work examines the economics of business clusters, including studies of the underlying economic forces that cause specialized clusters to form, and the impacts of clusters on innovation, entrepreneurial activity, organizational form, productivity, earnings and city size.
He has also studied the impacts of economic growth on land and housing prices, the economics of urban sprawl, urban blight and urban redevelopment, and the causes and consequences of privatization in the public sector. Professor Helsley has held a variety of editorial positions, including serving as co-editor of the Journal of Urban Economics from 2009 to 2012.
His teaching has focused on courses in urban and real estate economics, managerial economics, and microeconomic theory.
"My research focuses on how we can create more opportunities in cities through economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship, while also addressing what can be done to make cities more sustainable and liveable."
Areas of research interest
- Urban and public economics
- Developers and city formation
- Urban spatial structure
- Land pricing
- The private provision of collective goods
- Private government
- The economics of crime
- Urban political economics