Ratio Working Papers
Economics without Entrepreneurship or Institutions: A Vocabulary Analysis of Graduate Textbooks
Abstract: A teacher’s words reflect the theory and methods he uses.
Words reveal theoretical structures, the problems identified as relevant,
and how those problems should be analyzed. I investigate whether
entrepreneurship-rich and institutions-rich theories are represented in
Ph.D. programs in economics. I analyze textbooks for the presence of terms
that fall naturally into two sets. One set deals with the knowledge and
discovery: entrepreneur, innovation, invention, tacit knowledge, and
bounded rationality. The other deals with social rules: institutions,
property rights, and economic freedom. When the words appear I examine the
meaning. I examine the textbooks used in required courses in
microeconomics, macroeconomics and industrial organization in all Ph.D.
programs in economics in Sweden. The investigation is not specific to
Sweden, however, because Ph.D. programs in Sweden are virtually identical
to programs in the United States. The same textbooks are used, and nearly
all of the textbooks examined are written by economists in the United
States. I find that (i) all programs are in the tradition of “mainstream”
economics; (ii) by and large, the eight expressions scarcely appear in the
textbooks; and (iii) when they do appear, their meaning is diluted or
distorted, compared to their meaning in theories where the idea is more
central. In my judgment, the results constitute powerful evidence that
today’s doctoral programs do not train young economists to identify and
analyze important economic issues in a relevant way.
Keywords: Bounded rationality; Economic freedom; Entrepreneur; Innovation; Institution; Invention; Property rights; Tacit knowledge; Textbooks; Ph.D. programs; Education; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: A11; A23; B20; (follow links to similar papers)
24 pages, November 18, 2004
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- This paper is published as:
Johansson, Dan, (2004), 'Economics without Entrepreneurship or Institutions: A Vocabulary Analysis of Graduate Textbooks', Econ Journal Watch, Vol. 1, No. 3, pages 515-538
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