Monday, December 31, 2007

Venturing outside the ivory tower

I wonder how different the economics profession would be if economists were expected to do a year of service outside of academia or, at the very least, if hiring committees rewarded a year of real-world experience as the equivalent of, say, a couple of academic publications. My conjecture is that the profession would be less creative but more useful.
--Greg Mankiw on polluting the economics profession with the real world


Jess Austin said...

Any motivation for "less creative"? A wider range of experience (at least at certain ages) would seem to increase creativity.

James Choi said...

Less creative because there would be less energy devoted to off-the-wall, shoot-for-the-moon ideas that have no immediately obvious application but have a small chance of being revolutionary. Einstein wouldn't have thought of with relativity if he was primarily concerned with how to make trains run more efficiently.

Jess Austin said...

The proposed mechanism is plausible, but I would have thought Einstein to be a counterexample. Wasn't he a patent clerk through 1908?

It is my experience, and that of scientists whose works I've read recently, that groupthink is a greater danger to the creative thinker than having multiple jobs.