September 19, 2011
Academic Economists Aren't Practical Either
I just came across the paper Economists’ Hubris - The Case of Award Winning Finance Literature, by Shahin Shojai and George Feiger. It appears that it is not just Chief Justice Roberts who thinks academics could be doing some more practical work. Here's the abstract:
In this fifth article in the Economists’ Hubris series, we investigate the practical applications of eight papers that won best-article awards in 2008 and 2009 from the Journal of Finance or the Journal of Financial Economics, the two leading journals in finance. We find that these articles are unlikely to help financial executives improve the way they evaluate risk or manage either risk or their institutions. Finance academics appear to live in a parallel universe, completely oblivious to the nature of the financial services sector that they purport to study. Some of the papers do challenge long-held beliefs, which is very encouraging, but academics still need to go much further than that to write articles that are of any practical value.
I happen to believe that there are a lot of excellent law review articles out there with significant practical application. Sometimes, those articles are not at the top journals or winning the top awards (though some are and do). Earlier this year, there were some discussions on the general subject of law reviews and their value and impact. See, e.g., here, here, here, and here. And there is value in academic writing (legal and otherwise) that is not especially practical, but that adds to the discourse in other ways. Perhaps one day we'll figure out how to value (and assess the value of) different kinds of scholarship. Perhaps.