“HOW ECONOMICS SHAPES SCIENCE”: PAULA STEPHAN BOOK

October 29, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Posted in Books, Economics, Financial, History, Philosophy, Research, Science & Technology | Leave a comment

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How Economics Shapes Science 

Paula Stephan (Author)

Review

This is a marvelous book—lucid, cogent, and lively, full of fascinating anecdotes and news about what university science costs, who pays for it, and who benefits. Paula Stephan saw science as an economic enterprise long before other economists did, and she’s written what will be the definitive book for years to come.
–Richard Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics, Harvard University

Paula Stephan is the undisputed authority on the economics of science and her book is a delight. Laced with dozens of revealing anecdotes about everything from transgenic mice to the competition for high h-indexes and the Nobel Prize, How Economics Shapes Science reveals the economic logic behind the workings of modern science and makes a compelling case for using incentives to rationalize our use of scarce resources.
–Charles Clotfelter, Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics and Law, Duke University

How do economic considerations shape what scientists do? How do scientific developments affect economic progress? In a world facing challenges like global warming and threats of economic stagnation, these are critical questions. Paula Stephan’s treatment is masterful—and readable outside the ranks of economists, too.
–Richard R. Nelson, George Blumenthal Professor Emeritus of International and Public Affairs, Business, and Law, Columbia University

Scientific research and professional training are now inextricably linked. At the same time the perceived costs and benefits of science have skyrocketed, with governments and universities setting economic incentives in the race for productivity and prestige. Stephan’s groundbreaking economic analysis shows the complex results of these policies.
–Mara Prentiss, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, Harvard University

This fascinating book makes senior scientists like me keenly aware of the travails that await our students and post-docs as they pursue the many years of scientific training that lead to a very uncertain career. As Paula Stephan shows, from the point of view of income and stability, our students might be better off getting MBAs. All senior scientists should read this book. It gives a sobering dose of reality to our love of science.
–Kathleen Giacomini, Professor of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, University of California San Francisco

Paula Stephan is one of the world’s leading scholars of the economics of science. Her comprehensive analysis—as readable as it is timely—is a must read for anyone worrying about the future of science policy or the economics of universities.
–Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Irving M. Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics, Cornell University

We in Europe often invoke the US science system as the frontier for us, but most of us don’t know in detail how it actually operates. With its wealth of facts and stories, and its rich multidisciplinary perspective, Paula Stephan’s book can teach us. It will help scientists understand their environment and help policy makers see what levers they have (or do not have) to direct science. No one other than Paula Stephan could write with such insight and depth.
–Reinhilde Veugelers, Professor of Managerial Economics, Strategy and Innovation, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

About the Author

Paula Stephan is Professor of Economics at Georgia State University and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She has served on the Board on Higher Education and Workforce at the NRC, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences Council, and the Social, Behavioral, and Economics Advisory Committee at the NSF.

Product Details:

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • January 9, 2012
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674049713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674049710

Book Description

Publication Date: January 9, 2012

The beauty of science may be pure and eternal, but the practice of science costs money. And scientists, being human, respond to incentives and costs, in money and glory. Choosing a research topic, deciding what papers to write and where to publish them, sticking with a familiar area or going into something new—the payoff may be tenure or a job at a highly ranked university or a prestigious award or a bump in salary. The risk may be not getting any of that.

At a time when science is seen as an engine of economic growth, Paula Stephan brings a keen understanding of the ongoing cost-benefit calculations made by individuals and institutions as they compete for resources and reputation. She shows how universities offload risks by increasing the percentage of non-tenure-track faculty, requiring tenured faculty to pay salaries from outside grants, and staffing labs with foreign workers on temporary visas. With funding tight, investigators pursue safe projects rather than less fundable ones with uncertain but potentially path-breaking outcomes. Career prospects in science are increasingly dismal for the young because of ever-lengthening apprenticeships, scarcity of permanent academic positions, and the difficulty of getting funded.

Vivid, thorough, and bold, How Economics Shapes Science highlights the growing gap between the haves and have-nots—especially the vast imbalance between the biomedical sciences and physics/engineering—and offers a persuasive vision of a more productive, more creative research system that would lead and benefit the world.

 How Economics Shapes Science

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