Saturday, December 24, 2022

 558. Betrayal in academia.

 More than twenty years ago, I experienced the following betrayal in Academia.


At a given university, I was asked to set up a research institute cum Phd school, in collaboration between the faculties of Business and Economics. I was so naïve as to accept the assignment, seeing bridgeheads between the two disciplines. There was much at stake, because if it did not succeed, we would lose substantial funds for research.

 The bridgeheads I saw lay in non-orthodox economics of institutions and evolutionary economics. Unfortunately, those research programmes were not present at the Economics faculty, which was focussed on mainstream economics. I was a member of the Business faculty, and I was assigned a partner at the Economics Faculty. He feigned to support me, and to go along with my plan, which I thought was our plan, but in reality he was too much caught in his own discipline, and he sabotaged our plan behind my back. I managed to erect a stage screen of cooperation, and obtained the recognition of the Academy of Sciences needed to save the funding, but behind this screen people just continued their old disciplinary predilections.

 I quit that university, but for years I contemplated the reasons why the integration of business and economics was so difficult, and this is what I came up with. Economics and Business take radically different approaches. to rationality and sociality, optimality, and uncertainty, as follows:

 1.      Mainstream economics assumes the rational choice by autonomous individuals, while business has to deal with the irrationalities and social interaction of people.

2.      Economics is focussed on calculating optimal outcomes, but business has to deal with processes of organisation that may never achieve an optimum.

3.      Economics reduces uncertainty to risk, where one knows what can happen, to assign probabilities to possible outcomes and calculate the optimum, while in business one has to face the condition that one does not know all that can happen. and yet has to craft a path.

 Thus, a nasty experience can produce insight.

 The contrast repeated itself, years later, at the Academy, where I had become a member, in a difference of opinion in the section on Economics, which included Business, concerning admission of a new member, who had excellent publications in Business. but not in mainstream Economics journals. I proposed to have a debate on the differences between Economics and Business, along the lines set out above, but my proposal was ignored. I could not believe that an Academy would dodge a debate on the fundamentals of a discipline, and I appealed to the president of the Academy, who delegated the issue to the head of sciences of society, who made vague concessions that were never heard of again.

 This demonstrates how parochial science can get

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