nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2022‒06‒13
two papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Axventure AB

  1. The Third Mission in the Academic Profession: Empirical Insights into Academic Identities By Püttmann, Vitus; Thomsen, Stephan L.
  2. Hiding the Elephant: The Tragedy of COVID Policy and Its Economist Apologists By Foster, Gigi; Frijters, Paul

  1. By: Püttmann, Vitus (Leibniz University of Hannover); Thomsen, Stephan L. (Leibniz University of Hannover)
    Abstract: In line with the growing relevance of higher education and science for societal development and innovation processes, there has been a steady increase in the salience of interrelations with the extra-academic environment in the context of academics' work. Insights into the status of this so-called third mission in the academic profession remain fragmented, however. We use the concept of an academic identity as an analytical lens to investigate this status empirically based on an original survey among 4,284 professors in Germany across the full range of academic disciplines. The results show that the third mission is firmly included in the academic identities of many, but not all, professors and that the forms of inclusion differ. Specifically, we are able to identify four types of identities: (1) the dedicated type who embraces the third mission as a whole; (2) the idealistic type who emphasizes responsibility toward society and sociopolitical matters; (3) the pragmatic type who emphasizes material work-related and personal benefits; and (4) the reserved type, characterized by an overall distanced stance. We furthermore find evidence of a strong impact of disciplinary communities on the specific types of identities that academics develop, whereas the organizational context and the cohorts to which academics belong appear less relevant. In addition, there are indications that individual characteristics shape the identity formation process. Last, there are strong and differential associations between academics' identities and their actual third mission engagement. Overall, it appears that the third mission—at least if its multifaceted nature is considered—is a relevant area of activity for a significant share of the academic profession.
    Keywords: third mission, knowledge transfer, continuing education, societal engagement, academic profession, academic identity, professor
    JEL: I23 O35 O36
    Date: 2022–05
  2. By: Foster, Gigi (University of New South Wales); Frijters, Paul (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: In 2020 and 2021, the world witnessed policies that caused enormous net damage to nearly every country. We demonstrate the usefulness of the new WELLBY currency in gauging the costs and benefits of COVID policies and review the contributions of Australian economists to the scholarly and public debates about these policies. Our analysis documents the value of what was destroyed, the weak resistance mounted by the Australian economics profession during this period, and the role played by many Australian economists as apologists for Australia's most catastrophic peacetime economic policy failure. We close with ideas for working towards a better future.
    Keywords: COVID-19, economics profession, WELLBY, welfare, health policy, Australia
    JEL: I31 I38 A11
    Date: 2022–05

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