Edward J. Lopez
Professor of Economics

BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism
Director, Center for the Study of Free Enterprise
School of Economics, Management,
& Project Management
College of Business
Western Carolina University

Welcome to my faculty page at Western Carolina University, where I teach courses in principles of economics, intermediate microeconomics, and the ethics of capitalism. I am also the founding director of WCU’s Center for the Study of Free Enterprise, and Executive Director and Past President of the Public Choice Society. In the past, I have overseen WCU’s Free Enterprise Speaker Series and the BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism Programs, which offer research and educational grants to WCU students and faculty. 

Research Overview: I am a public choice economist focusing on institutional entrepreneurship. I use the tools of economics to research the dynamics of social institutions, which are the interleaving sets of rules that govern particular decision settings. I tend to focus on the origins of institutions and the process of institutional change through time. My early papers used natural experiments and econometric methods to model the political choice of institutions like term limits, eminent domain, teacher pay, committee assignments, and more. In later work, I began focusing on conceptual frameworks that combine non-market entrepreneurs implementing alternative ideas to create change, captured in my 2013 co-authored book with Stanford University Press. 

Current Research: Recent and current paper topics include the cognitive origins of institutions, co-production of knowledge governance, informal institutions, U.S. fiscal history, bottom-up socialism, coordination between think tanks & academia, eminent domain in Michigan cf. North Carolina, and the economic thought of Nobel Laureate James Buchanan. On the horizon, I have in mind a popular book that mixes the work of William Baumol, Armen Alchian, and Henry Manne to reframe design copyists as adaptive-imitative entrepreneurs. For abstracts and downloads of my current papers, visit my SSRN author page. For citations of past work, you can check out my Google Scholar profile. You can also visit my Amazon author page to learn about my two books.

For more about my various activities, please see my bio sketch and visit the links on the side menu. Thank you!