Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

The role of workshops, seminars and conferences in the history of economic thought (session proposal)

Saidi Aurélien, Université Paris Nanterre

There are very few history of contemporary economics articles that make no mention, as a background, of an important conference, workshop or seminar. Yet, there are very few articles taking them as the central protagonist. This session presents two case studies and an attempt at generalizing from these as well as other cases from 20th century economics. Robert Dimand (Brock University) will outline how the annual Cowles Summer research conference held from 1935 to 1940 created an international forum and a community for mathematical economists and econometricians in a way that Econometric Society meetings did not. Pedro Texeira (University of Porto) will study the role of the Columbia Labor Workshop in disseminating human capital theory in an apparently adverse intellectual environment – Columbia was associated with old institutionalism. Beatrice Cherrier (CNRS & University of Cergy) and Aurélien Saïdi (University of Nanterre, session chair) will reflect on the role of workshops in sharpening tools, disseminating approaches, debate and research cultures, establishing networks, building bridges and negotiating consensus across the 20th century. They will also discuss the extent to which the role of workshops and conferences differs in other sciences and across fields, and whether organizational characteristics (size, recurrence, openness, turnover, etc.) shape intellectual and institutional outcomes.


Keywords: Workshops, Cowles Commission, Human Capital, Networks.

Paper file