Thursday, November 1, 2012

Who's in your top 5?

I just ran across an article that was helping to prepare PhD candidates for the job market. Here. In perusing the article I came across a list of common questions. One question stood out:

Which senior economists do you wish to emulate? Why?

Watching football at a friend's house over a year ago I remember he asked me this question. At the time I didn't have a very good answer, it wasn't a question I had given much thought to. But tonight I spent some time thinking about who is in my top 5 and the qualities they have. Without further ado, 

Ronald Coase - His willingness to ask what appear to be obvious questions like "What is the nature of the firm?". Even when others condemned those questions as silly he pressed on. Also, his exhortations to go out into the field and study how the world actually works are important.

Charles Plott - His intellectual curiosity spans multiple fields and he demonstrated that experiments could be relevant for both policy and firm-level decision-making.

Daniel Hungerman - His econometric work really opened my eyes to interesting public economic questions when the only research experience I had was in doing experiments. Also, his research in the field of Economics and Religion has been really interesting because he has been a forerunner in attempting to identify causal relationships between religion and economically/politically relevant action (which is really hard to do).       

Elinor Ostrom - Her work on polycentrism (multiple centers of authority) demonstrated institutional nuance in what can become a heated and dichotomous debate of government versus non-government. Also, she had a fantastic and kind personality in addition to being a top-notch scholar.

Mark Isaac - He has done a lot of significant experimental research on public goods provision and topics in industrial organization.  Anyone would like to make such contributions to their field; however, that is not the main reason Mark is in my top 5. Anything I accomplish in economics will be because of his mentorship. His patience in listening and his friendship have benefited me more than economics but also in showing how to be a virtuous man. If I am half the teacher to my students Mark has been to me I will be doing a great job.

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