Reclaiming the university: Transforming economics as a discipline

Reclaiming the university: Transforming economics as a discipline
Arne Heise
Zentrum für Ökonomische und Soziologische Studien, Universität Hamburg, 2017
Level: beginner
Perspectives: Post-Keynesian Economics, Other
Topic: mainstream critique, social ecological transformation, social movements & transformation
Format: Working paper/Journal article

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Reclaiming the university: Transforming economics as a discipline

Arne Heise | 2017


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.

Key words: pluralism, transformation, mainstream economics, heterodox economics, regulation

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Das Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V. wird aufgrund seiner Unabhängigkeit und des Einsatzes für Pluralismus und Vielfalt nicht von finanzstarken Interessensgruppen getragen. Deshalb freuen wir uns sehr über eine einmalige oder dauerhafte Spende.