“Weak Feedback, and Minimal Differentiation in Research Spontaneous Orders: Consequences and Responses”
Studies in Emergent Order, Vol. 3 (2010)
Science and other fields of research spontaneous orders like the market economy. Research orders differ from the market due to the pursuit of reputation as opposed to profit, the role of a paradigm in shaping research in a discipline, and the consumption of research primarily by the producers. These features of research orders lead to two problems relative to the economic order, weak feedback due to the location of most researchers in most disciplines within universities, and minimal differentiation or a bias against heterodox schools of thought within a discipline. This paper discusses the origins, consequences, and possible responses to the problems of weak feedback and minimal differentiation in research orders. Direct intervention by boards of trustees or legislators for public universities is unlikely to improve feedback without crippling academic freedom, but government agencies do provide an important channel of feedback as demanders of research. Private foundations and donors can act to increase differentiation of the research product by supporting dissident scholars, and may provide a means for strengthening feedback by directly funding research.