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Making Things Technical: Samuelson at MIT

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  • Harro Maas
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    Abstract

    This paper examines how Samuelson defined his own role as an economist as a technical expert, who walked what he called ‘the middle of the road’ to – seemingly – stay out of the realm of politics. As point of entry I discuss the highly tempting offers made by Theodore M. Schultz in the 1940s to come over to Chicago, which Schultz persistently repeated over a period of three years and despite strong Chicago faculty resistance. A contrast between Schultz’s own experiences as an economic expert at Iowa State, Samuelson’s work as an external consultant for the National Resources Planning Board during the Second World War and the firm support of the MIT administration for Samuelson’s research, serve to pinpoint the meaning of being technical for Samuelson, and the relation of the technical economic expert to the realm of politics.

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    File URL: http://hope.econ.duke.edu/node/932
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Center for the History of Political Economy in its series Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series with number 2014-1.

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    Length: 30
    Date of creation: 2014
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hec:heccee:2014-1

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    Postal: Center for the History of Political Economy Box 90097 Durham, NC 27708-0097
    Phone: (919) 660-6899
    Web page: http://hope.econ.duke.edu

    Related research

    Keywords: technical expertise; economic modeling; ‘middle of the road’ economists; National Resources Planning Board; MIT; University of Chicago;

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