Leadership and Cooperation in Academia
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Leadership and Cooperation in Academia

Reflecting on the Roles and Responsibilities of University Faculty and Management

Edited by Roger Sugden, Marcela Valania and James R. Wilson

Across the world academic institutions are being questioned by their stakeholders and pressured to change. Answering these questions requires that academics and professional managers in universities think about their work, its value and organisation. The book highlights the need for space and stimulus to reflect on the responsibilities, roles and expectations that they identify for themselves, and that others place upon them – then, they might be better able to understand and to act. Similarly, policymakers and higher education commentators need the space and stimulus to reflect on the role of universities. This book will provide this space and an invaluable contribution to the stimulus.
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Chapter 15: Where were you?

David G. Blanchflower


All too few academic economists these days seem to be engaged in policy debates, and that seems especially true in the UK. Maybe that is because of perverse incentives, because promotion and reputation rest in large part on publication in prestigious journals that few people read. That may well be because the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE)/Research Evaluation Framework (REF) in the UK amounts to little more than top journal paper counting. Sadly many of these papers are cited by few and are not written to solve a deep policy question and indeed, in some cases could even be summarized as an answer in search of a question and worthless. A ‘major’ contribution on a quite trivial technical point in the economics profession usually receives more approbation and attention, and even a salary increase than a small contribution to an important question. Trying to solve some narrow theoretical point may well be less than useless. The big emphasis on theory in many UK economics departments seems to have been a mistake, as it seems to have little impact and has done little or nothing to improve the human condition. Playing clever mind games, which is the equivalent of counting angels on pinheads, should be a hobby rather than an activity subsidized by the British taxpayer.

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