Non-rational economic man

This past couple of days I’ve been attending the IDEI/Toulouse School of Economics digital economics conference, where the Suzanne Scotchmer Memorial Lecture was given by Joshua Gans.

Josh has a new book out soon (March), definitely one to look forward to, The Disruption Dilemma. The blurb says: “Almost twenty years ago Clayton Christensen popularized the term in his book , writing of disruption as a set of risks that established firms face. Since then, few have closely examined his account. Gans does so in this book. He looks at companies that have proven resilient and those that have fallen, and explains why some companies have successfully managed disruption — Fujifilm and Canon, for example — and why some like Blockbuster and Encyclopedia Britannica have not. Departing from the conventional wisdom, Gans identifies two kinds of disruption: demand-side, when successful firms focus on their main customers and underestimate market entrants with innovations that target niche demands; and supply-side, when firms focused on developing existing competencies become incapable of developing new ones.”

[amazon_image id=”0262034484″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Disruption Dilemma[/amazon_image]

However, his lecture was on his paper on the market for scholarly attribution, which interprets the assignment of co-authorship between senior and junior scientific researchers in terms of a signalling model. It was very interesting and perhaps sheds some light on the growing trend toward larger numbers of co-authors on science papers. The day afterwards, Justin Wolfers wrote in the New York Times about a new paper by Heather Sarsons showing among other results that women get zero credit for papers on which they are listed by co-authors (unless the others are also women). While this is a finding that will not surprise any female academics, it’s also kind of shocking to see the empirical results so starkly. No doubt Josh will blog about the gap between the rational world of his model and the non-rationality of male economists.


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  1. Pingback: Digitopoly | Gender Discrimination in Scientific Credit

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