This article examines certain issues in postwar economic theory and compares them with related issues in the nascent fields of cybernetics, industrial dynamics, and operations research. Because all these fields had close connections to MIT, the comparison provides an opportunity to assess to what degree a peculiar MIT “style” of economics, developed particularly by Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow, could be attributed to the MIT context, and to what degree this style developed in dialogue with a larger conversation taking place in and around the American economic profession as a whole. It is concluded that there were significant affinities in theoretical interest running between MIT economics and other fields at MIT, which revolved around the emergence of macro-scale phenomena out of the dynamic interplay of local decision-making processes. However, the methodology through which Samuelson and Solow, in particular, addressed these issues was peculiar to economic discourse.
Research Article|December 01 2014
William Thomas; Decisions and Dynamics: Postwar Theoretical Problems and the MIT Style of Economics. History of Political Economy 1 December 2014; 46 (suppl_1): 295–314. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-2716208
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