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Withering Academia?


  • Bruno S. Frey


Strong forces lead to a withering of academia as it exists today. The major causal forces are the rankings mania, increased division of labor in research, intense publication pressure, academic fraud, dilution of the concept of "university," and inadequate organizational forms for modern research. Academia, in a broader sense understood as "the locus of seeking truth and learning through methodological inquiry," will subsist in different forms. The conclusion is therefore pessimistic with respect to the academic system as it presently exists but not to scholarly endeavour as such. However, the transformation predicted is expected to be fundamental.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey, 2010. "Withering Academia?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3209, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3209

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andreas Diekmann, 2007. "Not the First Digit! Using Benford's Law to Detect Fraudulent Scientif ic Data," Journal of Applied Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(3), pages 321-329.
    2. List, John A, et al, 2001. "Academic Economists Behaving Badly? A Survey on Three Areas of Unethical Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(1), pages 162-170, January.
    3. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2007. "Replication in Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 2760, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Harvey S. James & Mary K. Hendrickson, 2008. "Perceived economic pressures and farmer ethics," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 38(3), pages 349-361, May.
    5. Butler, Linda, 2003. "Explaining Australia's increased share of ISI publications--the effects of a funding formula based on publication counts," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 143-155, January.
    6. De Clercq, Dirk & Dakhli, Mourad, 2009. "Personal strain and ethical standards of the self-employed," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 477-490, September.
    7. Frey, Bruno S, 2003. "Publishing as Prostitution?--Choosing between One's Own Ideas and Academic Success," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 116(1-2), pages 205-223, July.
    8. Michael Graber & Andrey Launov & Klaus Wälde, 2008. "Publish or Perish? The Increasing Importance of Publications for Prospective Economics Professors in Austria, Germany and Switzerland," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9, pages 457-472, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2011. "Kaderschmieden der Wirtschaft und/oder Universitäten? Der Auftrag der Wirtschaftsuniversitäten und –fakultäten im 21. Jahrhundert," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(3), pages 317-337, August.
    2. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2015. "Wissenschaftlicher Fortschritt in den Wirtschaftswissenschaften: Einige Bemerkungen," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 135(2), pages 209-248.

    More about this item


    academia; universities; research; rankings; publications; fraud;

    JEL classification:

    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • L30 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - General
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General


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