European Economics at a Crossroads
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European Economics at a Crossroads

J. Barkley Rosser Jr, Richard P.F. Holt and David Colander

As Europe moves toward an integrated academic system, European economics is changing. This book discusses that change, along with the changes that are happening simultaneously within the economic profession. The authors argue that modern economics can no longer usefully be described as ‘neoclassical’, but is much better described as complexity economics. The complexity approach embraces rather than assumes away the complexities of social interaction.
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Chapter 2: The Complexity Revolution in Economics

J. Barkley Rosser Jr, Richard P.F. Holt and David Colander


INTRODUCTION Imagine for a moment that one were looking at the economics profession in England in 1890. One would say that Alfred Marshall, with his blend of historical and analytical economics was the economics of the future; Walras’s and Edgeworth’s more mathematical approach would be considered minor players. Now fast forward to the 1930s – Marshall is seen as a minor player, while Walras’s and Edgeworth’s mathematical approach has become the foundation for Samuelson’s cutting edge economics. Now imagine economics in 2050. Much of what is currently done in economics will not be cited or even considered. Some parts of economics, which today are considered minor, will be seen as the forerunners of what economics will become. The point of this comparison is to make clear, which we mentioned in the last chapter, that to judge the relevance of economic contributions one must be forward-looking. One must have a vision of what economics will be in the future, and judge research accordingly. Current journal publication and citation metrics don’t do that; they have a status-quo bias because they are backward-looking, and thus encourage researchers to continue research methods and approaches of the past, rather than to develop approaches of the future. They are useful, obviously, because they show activity, but they are only part of the picture, and must be used in conjunction with specific knowledge of the researcher – what they are trying to do, what their vision of the future is, and how they see their work fitting in. Articles...

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