Tomas Nonnenmacher

Professor Tomas Nonnenmacher
Professor Tomas Nonnenmacher

Department Chair
Patricia B. Tippie Endowed Professor in Economics

Allegheny College,  Quigley Hall 213
Meadville, PA 16335
(814) 332-3820

Education and Experience

I came to Allegheny in 1996 after receiving my MS and PhD in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and my BA in Economics, with a minor in German, from Allegheny College (Go Gators!).

Currently the Chair of the Department of Business & Economics, I have held the Patricia B. Tippie Endowed Chair in Economics since 2015. In 2016, I was a Visiting Scholar at the Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory & Policy Analysis at Indiana University.

I served as the Co-Director of Allegheny’s Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics from 2017-2020. The Center provides a host of co-curricular opportunities for students, including training in Bloomberg terminals, exposure to industry leaders, internship and job preparation, and business plan competitions.

Teaching and Research Interests in Institutional and Organizational Economics

I teach classes in Microeconomics, Organizations & Contracts, Law & Economics, and Industrial Organization. In these courses, we model the decisions of individuals and firms and apply those models to a variety of real-world phenomena. How do competitive firms act compared to monopolies? Why do firms grow big by buying competitors or suppliers? How does the law affect people’s behavior?

"Institutional and Organizational Analysis Concepts and Applications"
“Institutional and Organizational Analysis Concepts and Applications”

My research and teaching interests overlap significantly. The broad field within which I do research is called Institutional and Organizational Economics. This is a cross-disciplinary field that studies how humans use institutions and norms to order their activities at the societal and organizational levels. With my co-authors Eric Alston, Lee Alston, and Bernardo Mueller, I published a book with Cambridge University Press titled Institutional and Organizational Analysis: Concepts and Applications.


A January 2022 publication with David Gerard, titled “Who Should Own the League? Transaction Costs and NBA Ownership Structure,” studies the organization of the National Basketball Association by weighing the various costs of assigning ownership of the league to team owners, players, and outside investors.

I co-authored two papers on labor relations in Mexico with Shannan Mattiace (my wife, a political scientist at Allegheny) and Lee Alston, titled “Coercion, Culture, and Contracts: Labor and Debt on Henequen Haciendas in Yucatán, Mexico, 1870–1915” and “The Organization of Hacienda Labor during the Mexican Revolution: Evidence from Yucatán.” In these papers, we study labor relations on henequen haciendas in Yucatán, Mexico, specifically how employers used debt contracts to tie workers, both legally and culturally, to haciendas.

My PhD dissertation was on the development of the telegraph industry. One published chapter, titled “Network Quality in the Early Telegraph Industry,” studied the difficulties that customers had in tracking messages across firms and how those difficulties contributed to integration in the industry. Another published chapter, titled “State promotion and regulation of the telegraph industry, 1845–1860,” examined the spread of regulation in the industry at the state level, particularly how states copied each other’s legislation as they addressed similar challenges.

Turquoise-browed Motmot

Other research can be accessed via my Curriculum Vitae or my Google Scholar pages.

Allegheny Club Advisor in Fencing and Birding

I am the advisor to the Allegheny Fencing Club. I fence epee and have competed nationally in US Fencing tournaments, medaling multiple times in Veterans events.

I am an avid birder, a member of the Allegheny Birding Club, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Tamarack Wildlife Center.