Title: A Road Not Taken: economists, historians of science and the making of the Bowman report.

Date: 11 January 2017
Venue: Ravelijn, RA 1247
Speaker: Prof.dr. Harro Maas

This paper investigates a hitherto unexamined collaboration between two of the founders of modern history of science, Henry Guerlac and I. Bernard Cohen, with two economists, Paul Samuelson and Rupert Maclaurin. The arena in which these two disciplines came together was the Bowman Committee, one of the Committees that prepared material for Vannevar Bush’s Science: Endless Frontier. We show how their collaboration helped to shape the Committee’s recommendations, in which different models of science confronted each other. We then show how, despite this success, the basis for long term collaboration of economists and historians of science disappeared, because the resulting linear model of science and technology separated the study of scientific and economic progress in uncommunicating boxes.

Roger E. Backhouse and Harro Maas
University of Birmingham, Erasmus University Rotterdam and University of Lausanne