Researchers are expected to produce original findings, yet nobody explains how original contributions are conceived in economics. Recently there have been calls for more creativity in economic research, yet there is no literature that explores creative research apart from collections of biographical essays. This book aims to address that gap, exploring the process of conceiving and generating ideas for interesting and original research contributions in economics (and potentially other social sciences too).
Creative Research in Economics serves both a practical and theoretical purpose. Theoretically it presents a unique way of thinking about the nature of problems and questions in economics and the role of social science researchers in society. As such it offers an interesting way to think about the philosophy of science and methodology in economics, and how new ideas emerge in the discipline. Practically it develops techniques for finding interesting and original research contributions (as opposed to conventional data-gathering research).
Whether you are a graduate student looking for that first interesting question, a novice researcher in search of fresh avenues for research after your PhD, or a seasoned academic looking to teach the philosophy and methodology of economics in more interesting ways, you will find this book of great use.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Possibility of Systematic Originality
The state of scientific creativity in economics
Can creative research be a systematic process?
Going beyond existing creativity research
Chapter 2: Originality in Social Science Research
Degrees of originality
What the product of originality looks like
The disciplinary origin of scientific originality
From shared mental model to original contribution
How the leap happens
What will be regarded as conceptions?
Requirements for a systematic approach
Chapter 3: The Representation of Problems in Economics
The importance of problems in science
The importance of problem representation
Economic problems represented as trade-offs
Economic problems represented as conflicts
How to construct an economic problem as a conflict
Chapter 4: Originality Through Questions
Generating interesting questions
Questions of critical confrontation
Questions in pursuit of new ideas
Chapter 5: Reasoning to New Ideas
Abduction, deduction and shared mental models
Mathematical proof and creative reasoning
Abduction with the aid of a logical conflict
Abduction with the aid of questions
Chapter 6: Rational Reconstruction from Case Studies
Amartya Sen and the capability approach
Kydland and Prescott and the ideas of central banking
Ronald Coase and his Theorem
Chapter 7: Dealing with Authentic Economic Problems
The problem of authentic economic problem solving
The social nature of economic problems
The political nature of economic problems
The unstructured nature of authentic economic problems
Conventional ways of dealing with wicked problems
A participative approach to original contributions
Chapter 8: An Instructional Programme
Goal, task analysis and objectives
Some additional findings from the first pilot programmes
Chapter 9: Next steps
Direct uses of this research
Less obvious extensions
Arnold Wentzel is a lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, where he teaches economics, education and research writing across a range of disciplines.