Economists such as Alvin Roth and Esther Duflo have recently argued that economics in the late twentieth century has evolved from (social) science to engineering. On the other hand, historians such as Mary Morgan and Michel Armatte have argued that the transformation of economics into an engineering science has been a century-long development. Turning away from the “economics as engineering” analogy, our introduction suggests an alternative approach to account for the presumed transformation of economics into an engineering science. We encourage the development of a history of “economics and engineering,” which depicts how these two types of knowledge–and the communities who produce them–have interacted in various institutional and national contexts. Drawing on the contributions to this 2020 annual supplement of HOPE, we show how these narratives may help change the historiography of twentieth-century economics.
We want to thank the Center for the History of Political Economy and Duke University Press for their support, as well as the many referees who helped us during the editorial process. Yann Giraud wishes to point out that his research has been supported by the project Labex MME-DII (ANR11–LBX-0023–01). Pedro Duarte acknowledges the financial support of the Institute for Advanced Studies, at the Université de Cergy-Pontoise, for visiting professorships (2016, 2018) that were critical for the shaping of this joint project.