İstanbul Bilgi Univerityİstanbul Bilgi Univerity / Murat Sertel Center for Advanced Economic Studies

Murat Sertel

# Murat R. Sertel is the architect of economic theory in Turkey. Upon returning to his home country in 1979, he destroyed the existing descriptive approach, replacing it with an analytical perspective of research. He inspired and paved the way for the work of internationally recognized Turkish economists and Turkish post-graduate students studying abroad. The contributions of Sertel, and of his native country Turkey, to economic theory are today recognized and respected worldwide. It is probably unique in recent history that one individual should augment the scientific standing of a country in such a dramatic manner.

He was born on July 12, 1942 in Ankara. He received his bachelor’s degree at Robert College, Istanbul, in 1963, his B.Phil. degree at Oxford University in 1966 and his Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1971. After having worked at MIT and the International Institute of Management, Berlin, he came back to Turkey in 1976. He was a professor of economics at Boğaziçi University from 1979 to 2003, during which period he also visited several universities and research institutes in different countries, including Austria, Belgium, Franca, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and the USA.

#The focal point of Sertel's work was on economic design, an area of study centered on the design of institutions where individual goals and social objectives overlap. It examines current economic, political and social institutions such as constitutions, property rights, tax laws, allocation rules, voting rules and auction mechanisms, and invents new ones. It would be unfair to limit Sertel's contributions to economic design to only one issue, as he is responsible for the introduction of this concept into the scholarly literature. Evidently, economic design was not an unknown subject before Sertel started to develop it. Yet Sertel was able to present past work from a coherent perspective that was to be designated by the name of economic design. This concept is present in all of Sertel's work: Center for Economic Design, Review of Economic Design, Foundation for Economic Design and the Society for Economic Design can be seen as Sertel's heritage to the scientific community. Sertel is recognized as one of the founders of modern economic design.

Yet it is impossible to explain the miracle that Sertel worked in Turkey merely through his prominent position in economic theory. He was a highly erudite man who liked to share his ideas. He was first and foremost a teacher. He found teaching highly exciting and attributed a special significance to the teacher-student relationship, and this is why he did not establish solely professional relations. He provided his real educational input on platforms that had a personal element. Indeed, he did not enjoy an information transfer that could also be effected through reading. His every word and gesture was designed to assist his students develop a scholarly perspective. Many who had never before considered an academic career were transformed by his teaching, noticing that academics meant more than the transmission of accumulated knowledge, finding the chance to test their views on international scientific platforms and being fascinated by the profundity of Sertel's mathematical formulae. Last but not least, Sertel was a very strong, energetic and resolute personality. He never doubted the attainability of his goals.

Murat Sertel's international distinction in the area of economic theory encouraged other Turkish economists and inspired a new generation to follow on his footsteps and make contributions of an international scope. In sum, Sertel did not only contribute significantly to the current achievements in international economic theory but channeled them back home and thus rendered Turkey invaluable service.

Murat Sertel passed away on Jan 25, 2003 in Aix-en-Provence, during a scientific conference.

He was

a mind of a rare brilliance

a genuine scholar

an excellent teacher

an energetic entrepreneur

a beloved friend

a devoted son and an affectionate father

a virtuous person.

Murat Sertel is no longer physically with us. Yet the torch that he lighted will continue to shed light on our country and humanity through the work of the scholars that he inspired.