The Chicago Workshop Model: Normalizing or Fragmenting Scientific Collaboration?
26 Pages Posted: 28 May 2009
Date Written: May 25, 2009
In a recent paper (Sharpening Tools in the Workshop, SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1014015), I argued that the Chicago School’s workshop model created an institutional context within which scientific collaboration among faculty and graduate students flourished. The benefit of the workshop model was the opportunity it provided for a common vision of economic science and of the economist’s task to emerge through the weekly grind of workshop debate. Once the common paradigm was established, the workshop model also provided the framework within which that paradigm was normalized across the scope of disciplinary pursuits.
One of the problems with the story told in that paper is that it ignores the fact that the Chicago workshop model also created the possibility for the fragmenting of the common vision of economic science over time. One way to examine the normalizing v. fragmenting tension in the Chicago workshop model is to examine the collaboration patterns among faculty members in the economics department over the postwar period. If collaboration activity become more concentrated within workshop groups, the potential for the fragmentation of the common vision increases. If collaborative activity is broadly spread across workshops, then the likelihood that the common vision is being maintained increases. A social network analysis of the Chicago School from 1960 to 1980 is used to examine the question.
Keywords: Chicago School of Economics, social network, network analysis, Chicago economics, Chicago workshops
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