Munich Personal RePEc Archive

La ricerca economica in Italia tra pluralismo e monismo: i giovani economisti negli ultimi trent’anni

Birolo, Adriano (2010): La ricerca economica in Italia tra pluralismo e monismo: i giovani economisti negli ultimi trent’anni.


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Taking as good the famous definition of economics attributed to Viner, “Economics is what economists do”, it is surprising to see how little the history of economics has addressed the matter of what economists actually do, above all outside the USA. The vast mass of data on research output which has recently become readily accessible and arrangeable are allowed in this contribution to put into focus (to sharpen) the Italian “representative” economist, at the first rung of the academic ladder, the “Researcher” (ricercatore), in three subsequent periods over last 30 years, 1984 – 2005. With the aim, on the one hand, to trace out the evolution of the scientific profile from the beginning of the 1980s until the end of the period; on the other hand, to verify whether the progressive internationalisation of the profession, the increasing influence of the Anglo-Saxon way of organising research with the introduction of evaluation criteria taking into account the prominence achieved by publications have effectively modified the subjects and methods of research. An extensive database of publications of three cohorts of young economists at the first step of the academic career has been construded. The publications has been classified on the basis of the research structure in economics prevailing at the edge of the 1980s, thus to outline from the inside the evolution of our research model. The outcome: that research model has lost the most part of his pluralistic peculiarities to close in significantly the monistic Anglo-Saxon model. Not a result unexpected; the novelty to emphasize is that the change appeared not step by step but all of a sudden at the transition from the 1980s to the1990s. The publications of the last cohort don’t do anything but conferm that change. Even whitin this metamorphosis, however, the research model that young researchers currently carry out, shows a specificity of the old one: the prominently role, even in the international comparison, of the History of economic analysis that, just about lone, supports the fleg of the pluralism. Other research areas that were typical of and characterized the Italian research model, also in the international research market, such as, for instance, the critical theories (Sraffian and Post-keynesian) coming from the Cambridge (Uk) tradition, have, almost completely, got out from the hunt territory crossed by the young Italian economists; because, perhaps, they are inclined to believe that an academic carrier as economist cannot be developed smoothly if based on research themes outside the nowadays mainstream.

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