Kevin O’Brien

Department Chair & Professor

Baker Hall 209A

Ph.D., Economics, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
M.S., Economics, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
B.S., Economics and Political Science, University of Illinois-Chicago


I have been a faculty member in the Department of Economics at Bradley University since 1992.  Prior to Bradley University, I taught at Texas Tech University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  I am currently chair and professor of economics in the Foster College of Business.  I am also the executive director of the Center for Economic Education, a position I have held for the last 10 years.   


I have taught a number of courses at Bradley University including Introduction to Economics, Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, Public Expenditure and Finance, Labor Problems and The Economics and Finance of Healthcare (an MBA course).  I received the Order of Omega, Professor of the Semester Award in 1999 and the Foster College of Business Midwest Grains Teaching Award in 1998.

Courses Currently Teaching

  • ECO 100 Introduction to Economics
  • ECO 310 Labor Problems


My original research steam focused on public sector labor markets with a concentration on police and firefighter collective bargaining.  A more recent research interest has been the determinants of online auction outcomes on eBay. Going forward, I am investigating budget outcomes for municipalities, specifically how institutional factors influence such budgets.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles in the Last Five Years

Highfill, J. K., O'Brien, K. M. (2012). Presidential Memorabilia on eBay: Value, Minimum Bid, and Popularity. The Journal of Economics, XXXVII(2), 1-22. 

O'Brien, K. M. (2012). The Impact of Municipal Responses to Budget Shortfalls. Pennsylvania Economic Review, 19(1), 15-32. 


O'Brien, K. M. (Presenter & Author), Highfill, J. K. (Author Only), Midwest Economics Association Meetings, "The Effect of Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Municipal Spending," Midwest Economics Association, Columbus, Ohio. (March, 2013).

O'Brien, K. M. (Presenter & Author), Highfill, J. K. (Presenter & Author), Missouri Valley Economics Association, "Presidential Memorabilia on eBay: Collecting Vis-a-Vis Investing," Kansas City, Missouri. (October, 2011).


O'Brien, K. M. (Co-Principal), Gretz, R. T., Bond, E. U.,: Entrepreneurship Study for Peoria," Sponsored by Tekes, Finland, Other. (June 2011-December 2011).

Gretz, R. T. (Principal), Scott, R. (Co-Principal), Tukiainen, T. (Supporting), O'Brien, K. M. (Supporting), Bond, E. U. (Supporting), "Networked Entrepreneurship," Sponsored by Tekes, the main Finnish funding agency for technology and R&D, Other, $140,000.00. (May 2009 - March 2011).


Foster College of Business 

  • Executive Director for Center for Economic Education


  • Associate Editor, Journal of Economics

Bradley University

  • Treasurer, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
  • Intellectual and Cultural Activities Committee