Malthus and the Most Cited Economist in the World

9 May 2006 at 9:59 am 3 comments

| Nicolai Foss |

Who is the world's most cited economist? I thought Ronald Coase. When I asked some of my economist colleagues they virtually all came up with either Kenneth Arrow or John Maynard Keynes.

No, says Geoff Hodgson, Research Professor at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, and one of today's leading "heterodox" economists. It's Oliver Williamson. Geoff says so announcing the following event:  

Williamson will give the Second Malthus Lecture, organized by Geoff Hodgson, at 6pm on Thursday 19th October at the University of Hertfordshire, in the Fielder Centre in Hatfield, UK. All are welcome. The topic of Williamson's lecture will be: "Corporate Governance and Economic Organization: A Contractual and Organizational Perspective." The First Malthus Lecture — commemorating the Hertfordshire economist Thomas Robert Malthus — was given by Nobel Laureate Douglass North in May 2005.

I am sure the management-gurus-turned-economics-bashers that I critized in my post of yesterday will be delighted by the association between Malthus — who was the reason why economics was christened the "dismal science" — and Williamson!

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Institutions, Theory of the Firm. Tags: .

Happy Hayek-Klein day Malthus and the “Dismal Science”

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jung-Chin Shen  |  9 May 2006 at 12:09 pm

    For curiosity, I googled the four authors you mentioned by Google Scholar. Professor Hodgson is right at least by this measure: Williamson by far got more citations than Coase, Arrow, and Keynes. I remember that Williamson once said (proudly) in his article that Markets and Hierarchies is the second most-often-cited book in the world, only next to The Wealth of Nations, and more than Capital. But this is not correct by Google Scholar measure. I did not check ISI. However, I am curious how many citations are simply ritual citations—one work is cited for legitimacy and academic habits rather than for inspiration and other meanings. I noticed that there is a difference between social science and natural science citation—in natural science, you tend to cite the most recent work that is closely related to your paper. But in social science, you like to cite the original or the representative work. The two types of citations signal different messages to their colleagues, and probably reflect how scholars construct their world.

  • 2. Bo Nielsen  |  10 May 2006 at 7:20 pm

    Very good point! Natural science seems to be concerned with advancing the field whereas social science (at times) seems more concerned with advancing existing ideas (read: the careers of one self and others). This raises an interesting question: To what extent are citation counts reliable as measures of impact/importance of work?

    On a related note: Oliver´s topic seems truly “innovative and new”…

    I greatly respect scholars like Karl Wiik and others who usually include a minimal number of references – and for the most time to themselves! At least this signals originality in the work!

  • [...] I too imagine that Williamson's critics will be delighted by the association with Malthus. [...]

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