This article takes one of the necessary, albeit rudimentary, steps toward coming to grips with the legitimation of laboratory experimentation in economics. To be specific, it aims to identify a subset of the nonexperimentalists in the economics profession who explicitly endorsed, between the early 1980s and the early 1990s, the legitimacy and the social usefulness of Vernon Smith's and Charles Plott's laboratory studies. By exploring several dimensions of the network established among Smith, Plott, and some well-known mechanism design theorists, this article demonstrates the following. First, close professional ties had been established among the protagonists discussed herein by the early 1980s. Second, in the 1970s and the 1980s, some mechanism design theorists felt the need to take Smith's and Plott's laboratory experiments seriously, and they indeed heeded the implications of Smith's and Plott's laboratory studies upon mechanism design. Third, the protagonists not only had keen interests in mechanism design, but shared the same conceptual scheme. Fourth, in the late 1970s and the 1980s, Smith and Plott believed that their laboratory studies were a useful complement to mechanism design theorists' mathematical endeavors, on the one hand; on the other, in the mid-1980s, the mechanism design theorists explicitly endorsed the complementarity of the two distinct scholarly activities and the legitimacy of Smith's and Plott's laboratory experimentation.
Research Article| June 01 2016
Kyu Sang Lee; Mechanism Designers in Alliance: A Portrayal of a Scholarly Network in Support of Experimental Economics. History of Political Economy 1 June 2016; 48 (2): 191–223. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-3494108
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