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Siting the New Economic Science: The Cowles Commission’s Activity Analysis Conference of June 1949


  • Till Düppe

    () (University of Quebec at Montreal)

  • E. Roy Weintraub

    () (Duke University)


In the decades following WWII, the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics came to represent new technical standards that informed most advances in economic theory. The public emergence of this community was manifest at a conference held in June 1949 titled Activity Analysis of Production and Allocation. Our history of this event situates the Cowles Commission among the institutions of post-war science in-between National Laboratories and the supreme discipline of Cold War academia, mathematics. Although the conference created the conditions under which economics, as a discipline, would transform itself, the participants themselves had little concern for the intellectual battles that had defined prewar university economics departments. The conference bore witness to a new intellectual culture in economic science based on shared scientific norms and techniques un-interrogated by conflicting notions of the meaning of either science or economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Till Düppe & E. Roy Weintraub, 2013. "Siting the New Economic Science: The Cowles Commission’s Activity Analysis Conference of June 1949," Working Papers 0040, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  • Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0040

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marcel Boumans, 2012. "Observations in a Hostile Environment: Morgenstern on the Accuracy of Economic Observations," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 44(5), pages 114-136, Supplemen.
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    4. Backhouse,Roger E. & Fontaine,Philippe, 2010. "The History of the Social Sciences since 1945," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521889063, March.
    5. Guglielmo, Mark, 2008. "The Contribution of Economists to Military Intelligence During World War II," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(01), pages 109-150, March.
    6. F. M. Scherer, 2000. "The Emigration of German-Speaking Economists after 1933," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 614-626, September.
    7. Pedro Garcia Duarte & Gilberto Tadeu Lima, 2012. "Microfoundations Reconsidered," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14869.
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    More about this item


    Cowles Commission; activity analysis; linear programming; general equilibrium theory; von Neumann; Koopmans; Dantzig; fixed point theorems;

    JEL classification:

    • B2 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925
    • C0 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General

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