Profile: Prof. Robert W Vivian
Prof. Robert Vivian from the School of Economics & Business Science in the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, delivered his Senate Lecture entitled: The methodological twist underpinning the myth of the St Petersburg Paradox and the end of the paradox, on Tuesday, 15th of May 2012.
At a young age Rob Vivian was asked, unexpectedly, by his father what he would like to be when he grew-up. Not knowing what to say, he said what most sons would say that he would like to be like his father, an electrical engineer.
And so he crossed the Rubicon and became an electrical engineer. He was awarded a scholarship by the Johannesburg City Council and graduated from Wits University with a BSc (Electrical Engineering). After graduation he became a professional electrical engineer and progressed rapidly to hold a senior position with the City Council.
While contemplating a future as an electrical engineer, while visiting a friend, he saw a copy of McKerron’s Law of Delict. The friend had no further use for the textbook and gave it to Vivian who read it from cover-to-cover and decided to study law as a hobby. That also started his interest in the law of delict, the management and insurance of liability risks.
Today, these are regarded as the most dynamic and complex of insurable risks. He continued to study law as a hobby and graduated with two degrees in law. At this point he left the Johannesburg City Council and jointed what is today Alexander Forbes where he specialized in Risk Management. He joined forces with two colleagues to write what currently is South Africa’s leading textbook on Risk Management. The book is in its fourth edition.
In 1989 after long discussions between Wits and the insurance industry, the Chair of Insurance and Risk Management was established and Vivian was appointed to that chair. For the first 10 years the chair was funded by the industry.
Vivian has held a number of senior positions at Wits including being the Head of the Department of Business Economics - a position he held until the Department was merged to form a School.
Vivian’s interest in the St Petersburg Paradox started in 1995 when as a result of the restructuring of the B.Com. degree a major in insurance was introduced. This enabled the economic theory of insurance to be introduced and the first lecture in this new course contained the St Petersburg Paradox.
To-date he has published five articles in peer-reviewed journals and has presented a number of papers both nationally and internationally on the paradox. His Senate Lecture entitled: The methodological twist and the end of myth of the St Petersburg Paradox, is thus planned to be the sixth article.
Listen to Vivian’s Senate Lecture here.
To read a copy of Vivian’s Senate Lecture, click here.