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Economic Theories, Models, and Policies: Historical and Methodological Perspectives

Date of news: 13 January 2022

On 9 December 2021, the department of Economics and Business Economics organised a workshop on Economic Theories, Models, and Policies: Historical and Methodological Perspectives.

The cultures of economic expertise have been drawing the attention in the history of economics for quite a while. Historical analysis may defy or at least substantially enrich standard understandings of theory-policy interaction in economics and make sure its contexts and complexities are being duly taken into account. This workshop provided an opportunity to exchange ideas on various epistemic, social, political, national/cultural, and (sub)disciplinary aspects of making economics practical; on the ways application may transform the very nature of economic knowledge; on the various – past or existing – infrastractures of policy expertise; and on the (in)efficiencies of economic policy associated with lack or abundance of economic ideas.

The workshop addressed such diverse topics as Dutch planning in the postwar period and the nature of the economic expertise in the World bank, the genealogy of the ‘incentive’ concept and the ethical perspectives on nudging, the role of economists in the Bank of England and in the today’s tech companies. Ideological background, political agendas, institution-building, and various other social and societal factors play out quite differently in different contexts, but all were shown to matter for economists’ epistemic priorities, modelling strategies, and their ultimate influence in the real world. Thus, the history of economics as ‘unsocial social science’ demonstrates how deeply economics is embedded in the plethora of contexts and how it can shape those contexts in a variety of complex and fascinating ways.

Participants from different universities organised sessions on a variety of topics:

  • Tom Kayzel (University of Amsterdam)
    The Decision Models of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau in the Context of the Early Cold War
  • Christina Laskaridis (Open University, UK)
    The Battle for Epistemic Authority and the Early Days of Research at the World Bank
  • Francesco Sergi (University of Paris-Est)
    Central Forecasting Models at the Bank of England: A Comprehensive History (1974-2013)
  • Magdalena Małecka (Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies)
    Behavioural Science in Policymaking: Return of the "Human"? Lessons from the History of Cold War Science and Feminist Philosophy of Science
  • Malte Dold (Pomona College)
    A Conditional Defense of Nudging When Preferences are Endogenous
  • Guus Dix (University of Twente)
    Economics and Incentives in Policymaking Practices
  • Edward Nik-Khah (Roanoke College)
    Who is a “Tech Economist”?