nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2006‒10‒21
three papers chosen by
Jonas Holmstrom
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. On ignoring scientific evidence: The bumpy road to enlightenment By Robin Hogarth
  2. Are the New British Universities Congested? By Tony Flegg; David O. Allen
  3. Attendance and Exam Performance at University By David O. Allen; Don J. Webber

  1. By: Robin Hogarth
    Abstract: It is well accepted that people resist evidence that contradicts their beliefs. Moreover, despite their training, many scientists reject results that are inconsistent with their theories. This phenomenon is discussed in relation to the field of judgment and decision making by describing four case studies. These concern findings that “clinical” judgment is less predictive than actuarial models; simple methods have proven superior to more “theoretically correct” methods in times series forecasting; equal weighting of variables is often more accurate than using differential weights; and decisions can sometimes be improved by discarding relevant information. All findings relate to the apparently difficult-to-accept idea that simple models can predict complex phenomena better than complex ones. It is true that there is a scientific market place for ideas. However, like its economic counterpart, it is subject to inefficiencies (e.g., thinness, asymmetric information, and speculative bubbles). Unfortunately, the market is only “correct” in the long-run. The road to enlightenment is bumpy.
    Keywords: Decision making, judgment, forecasting , linear models, heuristics
    JEL: D81 M10
    Date: 2006–05
  2. By: Tony Flegg (School of Economics, University of the West of England); David O. Allen (School of Economics, University of the West of England)
    Abstract: This paper uses data envelopment analysis (DEA) to examine the issue of congestion in British universities. The focus of the paper is on 41 former polytechnics that became universities in 1992, and the analysis covers the period 1995/6 to 2003/4. These new universities differ from the older universities in many ways, especially in terms of their far higher student : staff ratios and substantially lower research funding per member of staff. The primary aim of the paper is to examine whether this under-resourcing of the new universities has led to ‘congestion’, in the sense that their output has been reduced as a result of having too many students. Three alternative methods of measuring congestion are examined and, to check the sensitivity of the results to different specifications, three alternative DEA models are formulated. The results reveal that a substantial amount of congestion was present throughout the period under review, and in a wide range of universities, but whether it rose or fell is uncertain, as this depends on which congestion model is used. The results indicate that an overabundance of undergraduate students was the largest single cause of congestion in the former polytechnics during the period under review. Less plausibly, the results also suggest that academic overstaffing was a major cause of congestion! By contrast, postgraduates and ‘other expenditure’ are found to play a noticeably smaller role in generating congestion.
    Keywords: British New Universities; congestion;
    Date: 2006–09
  3. By: David O. Allen (School of Economics, University of the West of England); Don J. Webber (School of Economics, University of the West of England)
    Abstract: Marburger (2006) explored the link between absenteeism and exam performance by assessing the impact on absenteeism of removing a university wide policy of mandatory attendance for a single class. His results indicate that while an attendance policy has a strong impact on reducing absenteeism the link between absenteeism and exam performance is weak.This paper presents an alternative exploration into the link between absenteeism and exam performance by assessing the impact of implementing a module-specific attendance policy. Our results suggest the link between absenteeism and exam performance is strong, and that student-specific factors are important, including revision strategies and peer group effects. These results question the uniformity of the relationship between attendance and exam performance.
    Keywords: absenteeism, attendance, exam performance, undergraduate, peer groups
    JEL: A19 A22
    Date: 2006–11

This nep-sog issue is ©2006 by Jonas Holmstrom. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.