nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2011‒11‒01
six papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. Piecework versus merit pay: a Mean Fi eld Game approach to academic behavior By Damien Besancenot; Jean-Michel Courtault; Khaled El Dika
  2. Freedom, Anarchy and Conformism in Academic Research By K. Vela Velupillai
  3. The incidence of regional factors on "competitive performance” of universities By Fabio Pollice; Stefano De Rubertis; Enrico Ciavolino; Antonella Ricciardelli
  4. The Propertisation of Science By Gabriel Galvez-Behar
  5. University choice, research quality and graduates' employability: Evidence from Italian national survey data By Daria Ciriaci; Alessandro Muscio
  6. The reasons of scientists mobility: results from the comparison of outgoing and ingoing fluxes of researchers in Italy By M.Carolina Brandi; Sveva Avveduto; Loredana Cerbara

  1. By: Damien Besancenot (CEPN - Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris Nord - Université Paris-Nord - Paris XIII - CNRS : UMR7234); Jean-Michel Courtault (CEPN - Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris Nord - Université Paris-Nord - Paris XIII - CNRS : UMR7234); Khaled El Dika (LAGA - Laboratoire d'Analyse, Géométrie et Applications - CNRS : UMR7539 - Université Paris-Nord - Paris XIII)
    Abstract: This paper applies the Mean Fi eld Game approach pioneered by Lasry and Lions (2007) to the analysis of the researchers' academic productivity. It provides a theoretical motivation for the stability of the universaly observed Lotka's law. It shows that a remuneration scheme taking into account the researchers rank with respect to the academic resume can induce a larger number of researchers to overtake a minimal production standard. It thus appears as superior to piecework remuneration.
    Keywords: Mean Field Game, Academic production, incentives, Lotka's law.
    Date: 2011–10–13
  2. By: K. Vela Velupillai
    Abstract: In this paper I attempt to make a case for promoting the courage of rebels within the citadels of orthodoxy in academic research environments. Wicksell in Macroeconomics, Brouwer in the Foundations of Mathematics, Turing in Computability Theory, Sraffa in the Theories of Value and Distribution are, in my own fields of research, paradigmatic examples of rebels, adventurers and non-conformists of the highest caliber in scientific research within University environments. In what sense, and how, can such rebels, adventurers and non-conformists be fostered in the current University research environment dominated by the cult of 'picking winners'? This is the motivational question lying behind the historical outlines of the work of Brouwer, Hilbert, Bishop, Veronese, Gödel, Turing and Sraffa that I describe in this paper. The debate between freedom in research and teaching, and the naked imposition of 'correct' thinking, on potential dissenters of the mind, is of serious concern in this age of austerity of material facilities. It is a debate that has occupied some of the finest minds working at the deepest levels of foundational issues in mathematics, metamathematics and economic theory. By making some of the issues explicit, I hope it is possible to encourage dissenters to remain courageous in the face of current dogmas
    Keywords: Non-conformist research, economic theory, mathematical economics, 'Hilbert's Dogma', Hilbert's Program, computability theory
    Date: 2011
  3. By: Fabio Pollice (University of Salento); Stefano De Rubertis (University of Salento); Enrico Ciavolino (University of Salento); Antonella Ricciardelli (University of Salento)
    Abstract: The performance of single universities, beyond internal determinants, is influenced by the conditions of their own territorial context, that is by a number of factors related to their local geographical area, meant as a space of territorial interactions, measurable by its previous relational dynamics. This set of factors can, directly or indirectly, affect both the organizational structure and strategic orientations of the single university, as well as the results achieved by it in the field of education and research.Through a multi-dimensional statistical model, the evaluation criteria for university performance will be compared to some territorial variables which, in scientific literature, are considered to be indexes of territorial competitiveness. The statistical model aims at measuring the impact local context has on the competitive performance of universities, explaining the nature and intensity of this relationship. With reference to the objectives of the research, data we will use refer to two different sets of indicators: on the one hand, data used to evaluate university performance, on the other hand, the ones used to measure territorial competitiveness. In more detail, university performance is based on some of the indicators used by the CENSIS in the "University Ranking 2010" referring to the following databases: MIUR-Statistical Office; CINECA; CNVSU; National LLP Agency Italy; CRUI; CORDIS. Territorial data, instead, are extracted from the "Atlas of the Provinces and Regions competitiveness” elaborated by UNIONCAMERE. For both sets of indicators, the analysis will refer to the year 2008.If the indicators of university performance are correlated to territorial conditions, they don’t really measure university productivity/competitiveness, but rather the competitiveness of its territorial context. This can lead to some distortions in the financial resources allocation and, more generally, in national supporting policies to public universities.In their conclusions, authors also tend to reverse the perspective through which the role of government intervention has been traditionally interpreted. If universities are qualifying elements of territorial competitiveness – as it is shown by the fact that they are frequently used within the set of indicators to measure it – the strengthening of university system should be one of the priority objectives of regional development policies. Consequently, national government should invest in university education and research, even where university performance, due to some specific local conditions, is not satisfactory or even below fixed national or international standards.
    Date: 2011–09
  4. By: Gabriel Galvez-Behar (IRHiS - Institut de Recherches Historiques du Septentrion - CNRS : UMR8529 - Université Charles de Gaulle - Lille III)
    Abstract: For thirty years scientific institutions have been engaged in a process of propertisation through the strengthening of intellectual property in science. In fact, the relationship between science, intellectual property rights and the economic spheres have ever been neither stable nor continuous. Therefore a historical inquiry is necessary to understand the meaning and the practice of scientific property from the middle of 19th century to WW II. In this paper, the relationship between scientific authorship and property appears as a mean to promote the scientific work and its professionalization. Moreover, through the study of the French case, the place of science in the patent system is taken into account in order to understand, at last, the international controversy about scientific property during the interwar period.
    Keywords: Propertisation ; Science ; Intellectual Property ; History ; Scientific Authorship
    Date: 2011
  5. By: Daria Ciriaci (European Commission); Alessandro Muscio (University of Foggia)
    Abstract: Universities have come under increasing pressure to become key drivers of economic development in the age of the knowledge economy. Yet we know very little about the impact of university quality and scientific excellence on the probability of graduates finding jobs. This paper investigates the determinants of Italian graduates’ employability 3-years after graduation, with special reference to university quality measured in terms of research performance and teaching quality. The empirical evidence sheds light on the pivotal role of academic institutions in economic systems, proving that their contribution to employment growth could be substantial. Our analysis supports the promotion of policy initiatives to improve the quality of academic institutions, and the accountability of research results. As we also observe wide regional differences, we argue that university quality emerges as a supply tool for policy makers aiming at boosting young and skilled labour demand in less developed regions.
    Date: 2011–10
  6. By: M.Carolina Brandi (Institute for Research on Population and Social Policy, National Research Centre); Sveva Avveduto (Institute for Research on Population and Social Policy National Research Council); Loredana Cerbara (Institute for Research on Population and Social Policy National Research Council)
    Abstract: IRPPS/CNR finalised, in 2001, a questionnaire designed to mine information about foreigners engaged in research in Italy. We found that the numerical presence of foreign researchers was not proportionately negligible with respect to the total number of researchers in Italian public research institutes. This survey therefore demonstrates that Italian research institutes were securely connected to the international circuit of scientists and allowed us to recognize some of the main reasons of these peculiar migrations. However, the intake of foreign researchers in Italy is far lower than the outflow of Italian researchers abroad, though the dimension of the last flux is extremely hard to be determined, since no reliable statistical records are collected on this topic. Because of this reason, we recently started a new survey dedicated to the Italian researchers working abroad. Being their total number unknown, we are using the "snowball sampling” method in order to reach the highest number of subjects. The starting sample was taken from the DAVINCI data-base, available on the web site of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and composed by data voluntarily inserted by about 2000 Italian researchers working abroad. All the registered scientists were asked by e-mail to fulfil a questionnaire, basically equal to the one used for the previous survey on the foreign researchers working in Italy. Though this research is just started, its preliminary results seem to confirm the findings of the previous one concerning the reasons of what we might call the "natural mobility” of researchers: when scientists move abroad, they are generally motivated by a desire to engage in quality work, whereas other considerations that are very important to other professionals, such as economic compensation, are less important. By the way, our surveys also revealed a basic difference between the outgoing and ingoing fluxes of researchers in Italy: while the large majority of foreign scientists working in Italy plan to come back home, the largest share of the interviewees Italian researchers working abroad do not will to do the same. In both cases, the chief reasons for the scientist’s reluctance to settle in Italy can be ascribed to the unlikelihood of permanent contracts of employment and the poor prospects for career advancement in Italian public research institutes, universities and companies. This unfortunate situation, jeopardizing the Italian capability to compete in the present day knowledge based economy, is also confirmed by the results that we gathered from the analysis of the subsamples of Italian graduates working abroad from the 2007 yearly AlmaLaurea Survey on Italian Graduates’ Employment Conditions.
    Date: 2011–10

This nep-sog issue is ©2011 by Jonas Holmström. 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.