Susan Helper | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University
Susan Helper - Professor, Economics

Faculty – Susan Helper

Professor, Economics
Co-chair, National Academy of Sciences
Co-director, CIFAR
nonresident senior fellow, Brookings
member, Bureau of Labor Statistics Technical Advisory Committee,
Peter B. Lewis Building 272
Office Hours: By Appointment Only

Susan Helper, PhD, is the Frank Tracy Carlton Professor of Economics at Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. She served as the Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Commerce from 2013-2015, and as Senior Economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisors in 2012-2013.

Her research focuses on this question: When supplies and customers or management and labor collaborate, how does it shape the economy? Currently she is looking at how global supply chains affect regional development and innovation. She is also examining a paradox in regional economic development. While the world is becoming more “flat” with goods and money flowing ever more quickly around the globe, local “clusters" of production in places such as Silicon Valley remain important. Helper has numerous publications in refereed journals such as JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVES, INDUSTRIAL AND CORPORATE CHANGE, AMERICAN ECONOMIC REVIEW, JOURNAL OF ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT STRATEGY, and INDUSTRIAL AND CORPORATE CHANGE. She is a member of the editorial review board for STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL.

Since her appointment to Case Western Reserve University in 1990, Helper has taught students at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Her courses include Environmental Economics, Research Methods, Economics of Innovation, Competition and Public Policy, Economics of Cooperation, Introduction to Microeconomics, and Principles of Economics Perspectives on Management Theory.

Over the past ten years, she has served as chair of the Case Western Reserve Economics Department and the AT&T Professor of Economics; International Visiting Fellow at Said School of Management, University of Oxford; and Visiting Scholar, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California, Berkeley. She received her PhD from Harvard University and her BA from Oberlin College.

PhD, Harvard University, 1987
BA, Oberlin College, 1979

Initially Appointed: 1990

Interests and Courses

Recent Courses and Syllabi

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Selected Publications

  • Helper, S., Gray, J., Osborne, B. (2020).
    Value first, cost later: Total Value Contribution (TVC) as a new roadmap for sourcing decisions,   Journal of Operations Management.
  • Clingingsmith, D., Helper, S., Shane, S. A. (2020).
    Principles for Economic Policy in the COVID-19 Recession   Economic Policy Ideas for COVID-19.
  • Clingingsmith, D., Helper, S., Shane, S. A. (2020).
    Washington Must Add Medical Capacity   Economic Policy Ideas for COVID-19.
  • Helper, S., Sako, M. (2010).
    Management Innovation in the Supply Chain: Appreciating Chandler in the 21st Century   Industrial and Corporate Change: Industrial and Corporate Change.
  • Helper, S. (2010).
    Strengthening American Manufacturing: A New Federal Approach   (pp. 15). Washington, DC: Brookings.
  • Helper, S., , K. M. (2009).
    International Differences in Lean Production, Productivity and Employee Attitudes   National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Helper, S., , M. J. (2009).
    Can Price Hikes Save GM   The Daily Beast.
  • Helper, S. (2009).
    Should We Still Make Things?   Dissent.
  • Helper, S., MacDuffie, J. P. (2008).
    Better than a Bailout   The New Republic.
  • Helper, S. (2008).
    Renewing US Manufacturing: A High-Road Strategy   Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.
  • Helper, S.
    Preparing US Workers and Employers for an Autonomous Vehicle Future,  
  • Helper, S., , .
    “Management Practices, Relational Contracts, and the Fall of General Motors,”  
  • Helper, S.
    Why Manufacturing? Which Manufacturing?   Brookings.
  • Helper, S.
    Strategies for Job Creation and Retention in Manufacturing  
  • Helper, S., , S. M.
    Management Innovation in the Supply Chain: Appreciating Chandler in the 21st Century   Industrial and Corporate Change.


  • Helper, S.  American Economic Association Meetings, "Value Migration and Industry 4.0: Theory, Field Evidence, and Propositions", American Economic Association, Philadelphia. (2018).
  • Helper, S.  Agenda for Shared Prosperity, "Renewing US Manufacturing: A High-Road Strategy", Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC. (2008).

Academic and Professional Activities

  • Program Organizer, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, 2019 - 2024
  • Non-resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, 2016 - Present
  • Chief Economist, US Department of Commerce, 2013 - 2015
  • senior economist, White House Council of Economic Advisers, 2012 - 2013
  • Committee Member, National Academy of Sciences Panel on Manufacturing, Washington DC, 2011 - 2012
  • Editorial Review Board Member, Strategic Management Journal, 2008 - Present


  • Becker Friedman Fellow, University of Chicago. (2018).
  • Women of Achievement Award, Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, CWRU. (2009).