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Nonneutralities in Science Funding: Direction, Destabilization, and Distortion


  • Butos William N.

    (Trinity College, Hartford, CT)

  • McQuade Thomas J.

    (Independent Scholar, San Diego, CA)


We treat science as a Hayekian social order whose distinctive emergent characteristic is the generation of knowledge. We model modern science as an institutional form that principally relies on publication with citation and its effects on individual reputation in order to study the possible effects of funding on science. We develop a taxonomy of three broad categories of effect: those having to do with the direction followed by scientific activity, those involving the operational and financial stability of both the physical institutions integral to scientific work and the scientists themselves, and those due to distortions of the basic knowledge-generating procedures of science. It is argued that, while directional effects of funding are ubiquitous, destabilizing and distorting effects are much more likely to emerge when funding sources are concentrated than when they are decentralized. Further, when funding is accompanied by regulatory oversight, the possibilities for distortion are significantly increased. Examples of such effects actually occurring under the current U.S. funding regime are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Butos William N. & McQuade Thomas J., 2012. "Nonneutralities in Science Funding: Direction, Destabilization, and Distortion," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 18(1), pages 1-28, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:18:y:2012:i:1:n:4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas McQuade & William Butos, 2005. "The Sensory Order and other Adaptive Classifying Systems," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 335-358, December.
    2. Wible James, 1998. "The Economics Of Science, Methodology And Epistemology As If Economics Really Matter," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 8(4), pages 1-18, December.
    3. Koppl, Roger & Yeager, Leland B., 1996. "Big Players and Herding in Asset Markets: The Case of the Russian Ruble," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 367-383, July.
    4. Jacobs, Struan, 1999. "Michael Polanyi's Theory of Spontaneous Orders," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 11(1-2), pages 111-127.
    5. Struan Jacobs, 1999. "Michael Polanyi's Theory of Spontaneous Orders," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 11(1), pages 111-127, January.
    6. Richard R. Nelson, 1959. "The Simple Economics of Basic Scientific Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67, pages 297-297.
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