Irma Adelman: A Pioneer in the Expansion of Economics
AbstractMajor innovations and extensions require that economists change their focus. This entails the destruction of some of their human capital. Even though this is a process of creative destruction, typical of progress in industry, the process is somewhat painful and therefore is not undertaken lightly. Typically, most of the enthusiasm for our work on social and political aspects of economic growth was expressed by people either at the very top of our profession, who had human capital to burn, or by new entrants into the profession, who, as yet, had no human capital to lose. And, most of the resistance to our work came from the middle of the profession, who either could not afford to lose any human capital or could not be bothered to engage in the relearning effort required to absorb it. The initial reactions to our work exemplified this dualism. . . . Many graduate students came to Berkeley from all over the world in order to study under me. I then discouraged them from writing dissertations in the interdisciplinary tradition, fearing the potential damage to their careers.
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