This article traces the attempts of W. Rupert Maclaurin to improve the research profile of economics at MIT through establishing a research project on the economics of innovation, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The project is important because it marks a significant stage in the transition of economics at MIT from being a department focused exclusively on providing courses for engineers and scientists to one that was to become a major location for research in economics. Through examination of papers held in the Rockefeller archives it documents the difficulties Maclaurin encountered and the failure of the project to draw on the resources of MIT's scientists and engineers in the way he and Rockefeller officials had hoped and reflects on his marginalization in a department increasingly dominated by Paul Samuelson. Maclaurin's interdisciplinary approach to research fell out of favor, and the research profile of the MIT economics department became increasingly monodisciplinary.

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