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Economics as Anatomy

Radical Innovation in Empirical Economics G.M. Peter Swann, Emeritus Professor of Industrial Economics, Nottingham University Business School, UK
For most of his career, Peter Swann’s main research interest has been the economics of innovation. But he has also been preoccupied with a second question: what is the best way to study empirical economics? In this book, he uses his knowledge of the first question to answer the second. There are two fundamentally different approaches to innovation: incremental innovation and radical innovation – ‘radical’ in the sense that we go back to the ‘roots’ of empirical economics and take a different tack. An essential lesson from the economics of innovation is that we need both incremental and radical innovation for the maximum beneficial effect on the economy. Swann argues that the same is true for economics as a discipline. This book is a much-awaited sequel to Putting Econometrics in its Place which explored what other methods should be used, and why. This book is about the best way of organising the economics discipline, to ensure that it pursues this wide variety of methods to maximum effect.
Extent: c 264 pp
Hardback Price: $125.00 Web: $112.50
Publication Date: January 2019
ISBN: 978 1 78643 485 2
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  • eISBN: 978 1 78643 486 9

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  • Economics and Finance
  • Econometrics
  • Methodology of Economics
  • Research Methods in Economics
  • Research Methods
  • Research Methods in Economics
  • Research Methods
There are two fundamentally different approaches to innovation: incremental and radical. In Economics as Anatomy, G.M. Peter Swann argues that economics as a discipline needs both perspectives in order to create the maximum beneficial effect for the economy.

Chapters explore how and why mainstream economics is very good at incremental innovation but seems uncomfortable with radical innovation. Swann argues that economics should follow the example of many other disciplines, transitioning from one field to a range of semi-autonomous sub-disciplines. In this book, he compares the missing link in empirical economics to being the economic equivalent of anatomy, the basis of medical discourse.

Working as a sequel to Swann’s Putting Econometrics in its Place, this book will be a vital resource to those who are discontent with the state of mainstream economics, especially those actively seeking to promote change in the discipline. Students wishing to see progress in the teaching of economics will also benefit from this timely book.
‘Economics as Anatomy is a superb sequel to Peter Swann’s earlier book, Putting Econometrics in its Place. It is filled with educated common sense. It critiques the profession without condemnation, and provides some excellent and well-reasoned suggestions for how the profession can (and should) do better.’
– David Colander, Middlebury College, US

‘Peter Swann’s call for economics to embrace a federation of approaches to economics, akin to the diversity one finds in medicine, is a thoughtful insider’s response to the calls for pluralism in economics by internal and external critics after the financial crisis of 2008. His demonstration that the signal to noise ratio in the vast majority of econometric studies is far too low to rely on econometrics alone as a way to evaluate economic theories should be read and appreciated by all econometricians. Humility may be the first necessary step in the reform of economics.’
– Steve Keen, Kingston University London, UK.

‘Swann applies ideas from the economics of innovation and standards plus entertaining analogies from medicine and Sherlock Holmes to make a persuasive case for improving empirical economics. He shows how this can be done by adopting a wider variety of methods and embracing free trade and a division of labour with other disciplines.’
– Ron Smith, Birkbeck, University of London, UK
Contents: Preface PART I RE-APPRAISAL 1. Introduction 2. How Good are Econometric Results? 3. Assumptions in Empirical Economics 4. Three Types of Rigour 5. Misinterpreting Kelvin’s Maxim 6. Myths about Case Studies 7. Discontent in the Academy 8. Wider Discontent PART II INNOVATION 9. Economics of Innovation 10. Incremental Innovation in Economics 11. Radical Innovation in Economics PART III THE FEDERATION 12. Why Emulate Medicine? 13. Economic Anatomy 14. Economic Physiology 15. Economic Pathology 16. Pathology in the Economics Discipline 17. Multidisciplinary Hybrids 18. Practitioner Hybrids 19. And Many Others … 209 20. Will the Federation Survive? References Index