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Reclaiming the university: Transforming economics as a discipline

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  • Heise, Arne

Abstract

Economics as a discipline is currently in disarray. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, academic experts, students, commentators, practitioners and politicians all questioned the status of academic economics and many called for a 'new economic thinking'. Nearly a decade later, however, there is little evidence of a transformation in research and teaching. Furthermore, economic policy based on mainstream economics is still prevalent. It is therefore necessary to consider how the discipline needs be transformed and thereby to provide an explanation for the resilience of the current mainstream. The present study first clarifies what is meant by a transformation of economics as a discipline, since this remains an ill-defined term and may be interpreted in very different ways. It then establishes the conditions of a successful transformation of the discipline in terms of intra-disciplinary and extra-disciplinary factors. The paper argues that economics as a discipline cannot be expected to trigger this transformation by itself (i.e. via self-regulation), since the 'market for economic ideas' is prone to market failure. In addition, the influence of external factors and actors on the market may serve to distort the congruence between the individual researcher's utility and societal welfare. External incentives are therefore required to establish constitutional guardrails that ensure fair competition between ideas.

Suggested Citation

  • Heise, Arne, 2018. "Reclaiming the university: Transforming economics as a discipline," Discussion Papers 67, University of Hamburg, Centre for Economic and Sociological Studies (CESS/ZÖSS).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cessdp:67
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    pluralism; transformation; mainstream economics; heterodox economics; regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
    • B50 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - General

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