Toward a General Theory of Awards, or, Do Economists Need a Hall of Fame?
The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 80, No. 2, pp. 422-431, March-April 1972
11 Pages Posted: 30 May 2011
Date Written: March 1, 1972
Professional baseball and football each has its Hall of Fame. Most Valuable Player awards are announced in a growing number of sports, as well as by individual teams. There are Coach of the Year awards, Manager of the Year awards; there is even a Horse of the Year award. Why do economics and other intellectual sports not have similar awards? Surely if we are to be "relevant" we must come to grips with such vexing real world problems as, "What is the optimal number of awards? Should all awards be equal even if some are more equal than others?" It is amazing that these questions have escaped analysis by economists. We make no claim to answering these critical questions here, though we do propose an award to anyone who does!
We think of this paper as a modest effort to provide a building block for a "general theory of awards." The American Economic Association (AEA) missed a golden opportunity to meet this challenge over a decade ago, when, having appointed a special committee to investigate the possibility of making additional awards, it concluded in favor of the status quo, though or unspecified reasons.' Thus, the economics profession provides only limited recognition for the outstanding achievements of its members. In addition to offices in the AEA, the only formal awards are the John Bates Clark Award and the Francis A. Walker Award, and since 1965 the Distinguished Fellow Award.
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