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Adam Smith Goes to College: An Economist Becomes an Academic Administrator

Author

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  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg

Abstract

The author asks whether it is useful to view universities in a utility-maximizing framework and shows that university organizing virtually guarantees that the utility-maximizing model is the incorrect approach. He then discusses resource allocation issues at Cornell and reflects upon how concepts that are obvious to economists helped or hindered decision making at Cornell. The author hopes to convey not that economic concepts are irrelevant in operating a university, but rather that it takes a long time to explain to all the actors in the system why these concepts should matter and even longer to actually make them matter.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1999. "Adam Smith Goes to College: An Economist Becomes an Academic Administrator," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 99-116, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:13:y:1999:i:1:p:99-116
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.13.1.99
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.13.1.99
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Boyes, William J & Happel, Stephen K, 1989. "Auctions as an Allocation Mechanism in Academia: The Case of Faculty Offices," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 37-40, Summer.
    2. Cukierman, Alex & Tommasi, Mariano, 1998. "When Does It Take a Nixon to Go to China?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 180-197, March.
    3. Ehrenberg, Ronald & Kasper, Hirschel & Rees, Daniel, 1991. "Faculty turnover at American colleges and universities: Analyses of AAUP data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 99-110, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fethke, Gary, 2005. "Strategic determination of higher education subsidies and tuitions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 601-609, October.
    2. Rey, Elena Del, 2001. "Teaching versus Research: A Model of State University Competition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 356-373, March.
    3. Fakhraddin Maroofi & Seyed Hamid Mahdiun & Jamshid Taghsimi, 2017. "The Role of Human Capital Within the University Administration," International Journal of Asian Social Science, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 7(2), pages 169-181, February.
    4. Bernt Bratsberg & James F. Ragan & John T. Warren, 2010. "Does Raiding Explain The Negative Returns To Faculty Seniority?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 704-721, July.
    5. McDowell, John & Singell Jr., Larry D. & Stater, Mark, 2009. "Congratulations or condolences? The role of human capital in the cultivation of a university administrator," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 258-267, April.
    6. Denton Marks, 2002. "Academic Standards as Public Goods and Varieties of Free-Rider Behaviour," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 145-163.
    7. Quentin David, 2009. "The Determinants of Research Production by U.S. Universities," CREA Discussion Paper Series 09-16, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
    8. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:4:p:546-564 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Goodall, Amanda H. & McDowell, John M. & Singell, Larry D., 2014. "Leadership and the Research Productivity of University Departments," IZA Discussion Papers 7903, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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