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Economics without Entrepreneurship or Institutions: A Vocabulary Analysis of Graduate Textbooks

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Abstract

A teacher’s words reflect the theory and methods he uses. Words reveal theoretical structures, the problems identified as relevant, and how those problems should be analyzed. I investigate whether entrepreneurship-rich and institutions-rich theories are represented in Ph.D. programs in economics. I analyze textbooks for the presence of terms that fall naturally into two sets. One set deals with the knowledge and discovery: entrepreneur, innovation, invention, tacit knowledge, and bounded rationality. The other deals with social rules: institutions, property rights, and economic freedom. When the words appear I examine the meaning. I examine the textbooks used in required courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics and industrial organization in all Ph.D. programs in economics in Sweden. The investigation is not specific to Sweden, however, because Ph.D. programs in Sweden are virtually identical to programs in the United States. The same textbooks are used, and nearly all of the textbooks examined are written by economists in the United States. I find that (i) all programs are in the tradition of “mainstream” economics; (ii) by and large, the eight expressions scarcely appear in the textbooks; and (iii) when they do appear, their meaning is diluted or distorted, compared to their meaning in theories where the idea is more central. In my judgment, the results constitute powerful evidence that today’s doctoral programs do not train young economists to identify and analyze important economic issues in a relevant way.

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  • Johansson, Dan, 2004. "Economics without Entrepreneurship or Institutions: A Vocabulary Analysis of Graduate Textbooks," Ratio Working Papers 58, The Ratio Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0058
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel B. Klein, 2005. "The Ph.D. Circle in Academic Economics," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 2(1), pages 133-148, April.
    2. Tawni H. Ferrarini & James D. Gwartney & John S. Morton, 2011. "Advanced Placement Economics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 8(1), pages 57-75, January.
    3. Robert Lepenies, 2014. "Economists as political philosophers : a critique of normative trade theory," RSCAS Working Papers 2014/11, European University Institute.
    4. Schneck, Stefan & May-Strobl, Eva, 2014. "The economic contribution of start-up firms in Germany," Working Papers 02/14, Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn.
    5. Arthur M. Diamond, Jr., 2007. "Thriving at Amazon: How Schumpeter Lives in Books Today," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 4(3), pages 338-344, September.
    6. Arild Sæther & Ib E. Eriksen, 2014. "Ragnar Frisch and the Postwar Norwegian Economy," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 11(1), pages 46-80, January.
    7. Milo Bianchi & Magnus Henrekson, 2005. "Is Neoclassical Economics still Entrepreneurless?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(3), pages 353-377, July.
    8. Julita E. Wasilczuk, 2017. "Research on Entrepreneurship – Forms of Entrepreneurship (Badanie przedsiebiorczosci a jej rodzaje)," Research Reports, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 1(23), pages 14-26.
    9. Kopczewski, Tomasz & Okhrimenko, Iana, 2019. "Can homo economicus be an altruist? A classroom experimental method," International Review of Economics Education, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 1-1.
    10. William Stull, 2014. "Taking the Plunge: Teaching the Microeconomics of Entrepreneurship," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 20(2), pages 139-150, May.
    11. Charles B. Blankart & Gerrit B. Koester, 2007. "The Economic Analysis of Constitutions: Fatalism Versus Vitalism," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 4(2), pages 169-183, May.
    12. Johansson, Dan & Karlsson, Johan & Malm, Arvid, 2020. "Family business—A missing link in economics?," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1).
    13. repec:kap:iaecre:v:20:y:2014:i:2:p:139-150 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Bounded rationality; Economic freedom; Entrepreneur; Innovation; Institution; Invention; Property rights; Tacit knowledge; Textbooks; Ph.D. programs; Education;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A23 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Graduate
    • B20 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - General

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