A Brief History of Christensen Associates

Christensen Associates was founded in 1976 by Lau Christensen, Dianne Christensen, and Doug Caves in an off-campus apartment building. To move between two rented basement apartments, our economists needed to traverse through a laundry room in use by other tenants of the building. This situation would last until 1982, when we moved into our first small office space. But, having significantly underestimated the demand for our microeconomic analysis, our presence there would be short-lived.

Previous Company Logo

Our long-used company graphic, with nods toward our original industries.

The firm’s first projects began when Lau, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin, was approached to testify on AT&T’s behalf in the defining antitrust case of the decade. That case broadened into our current litigation practice. Concurrently, the founders were applying their microeconomic tools to estimate changes in consumer electricity consumption under time-of-day rates for the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. This pioneering work heralded our entry into the energy industry.

In 1981, we engaged with the U.S. Postal Service to build capital stock estimates. They called upon us to apply the academic research of the company founders to assess Total Factor Productivity, a responsibility that still continues. This work required our staff to grow comfortable with economic modeling and huge datasets long before the age of “Big Data.” To this day, the U.S. Postal Service remains our single largest client. We are a proud partner as we assist on many challenging economic issues.


The computer room, with Stacey, Tom, and Mike.

By 1985, the growth of the business moved us into Madison’s iconic, cylindrical Pyare Square building. The “computer room” became storage space as 386s appeared upon our desktops. Calculators retreated into desk drawers as Lotus 1-2-3 and Excel were unveiled. Storage space was reclaimed for servers, firewalls, and jumbles of networking cable. The space required by our economic library shrank as much Economics literature appeared but a web search away.

In the U.S. economy at large, these same technological advances were driving change that benefited all our practice areas. New technologies spurred considerable increases in invention and associated patent filings, and Christensen Associates was well-positioned to assist an increasing number of clients looking for IP valuations and damage assessments due to proven infringements. A significant decline in personal communication with letters and stamps required review of the US Postal Service mandate that their various mail classes avoid cross-subsidies. Electric industry deregulation and FERC Order 888 ushered in a new era of opportunity and potential pitfalls for many of our clients. In 2005, we shifted our energy practice into a wholly-owned subsidiary, CA Energy Consulting. CA Energy Consulting staff are Christensen Associates employees, and they continue to contribute in projects in other industries.

In 2010, seeking modern amenities and fleeing the varied microclimates that occur within a mostly glass cylinder, we moved down the street into a new building, coincidentally located on the same lot that hosted us in the early 80’s. Our current location, 800 University Bay Drive, meets the rigorous standards set under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, and it is certified at the Platinum Level.

In 2014, Christensen Associates completed its transition into a 100% employee-owned consulting firm.