Arnold Kling  

Rodrik on Blogging and Lemons

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Dani Rodrik writes,

if economists with high opportunity costs of time start to get out, shall we have a lemons problem on our hands? Will eventually the only prolific bloggers remain the ones that are not worth reading?

It takes enormous patience to publish in journals. The lag time is even longer than with writing a book, if you think about getting rejected at a couple of places, waiting months for referees' reports, revising and resubmitting, getting onto the publication schedule, and so forth.

Are those of us who lack the patience to plug away at getting journal articles published not worth reading? The traditional academic viewpoint would be "yes." If you don't have a long publication list in journals, then you are a lemon.

Incidentally, I'm in the middle of reading Rodrik's new book, and I'm liking it more than you might expect. He is very eclectic in terms of his ideas, so that you could almost describe him as advocating industrial policy with an Austrian slant.

That is, he likes government-sponsored industrial policy, but he keeps emphasizing that the way to make such policy work is to ensure that the industrial policy generates lots of experiments and the failures are readily discarded. From my Masonomist perspective, it's like arguing that cats are great as long as you can teach them to bark. But I'll probably have a longer review when I finish the book.

UPDATE: Rodrik quickly changes his mind.

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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Biomed Tim writes:
Are those of us who lack the patience to plug away at getting journal articles published not worth reading? The traditional academic viewpoint would be "yes."

Where do you think this academic snobbery comes from? Although a great economist may have absolute advantage at both research and blogging, some other economist may still have the comparative advantage in blogging.

And of course those blogs are worth reading.

General Specific writes:

The problem with blogs is that they don't converge. They just splatter all over the place. They're very noisy. Low signal to noise ratio. A wiki like forum in which experts can quickly review and comment on ideas is a more appropriate means in which to address the issue of turn-around time plaguing older forms of publishing and reviewing ideas. I don't think blogs will do it.

On industrial policy: Personally, I'm not a big fan of government industrial policy. I am a fan of DARPA like research and development, which is a form of industrial policy, and has benefited the US greatly (as I type on what was once the ARPANET). DARPA invests in ideas and technologies and then lets them die or move on. Though even DARPA and the DOD define certain areas in which expertise is necessary and critical to national security, so redundant US sources are maintained. Efficient? Not necessarily.

Without all the government sponsored R&D since WWII, the world would be a much different place--lower tech. That's a fact.

John Fast writes:

I predict that high-end academic bloggers will continue to blog -- and raise the quality and respectability of blogging -- as long as academic journals take too long to review and publish articles.

If I understand correctly, the bottleneck in the publishing process is the amount of time that peer review takes, because so many academics have such a backlog of reading material that they don't quickly get to articles that they are sent to review.

Daniel Klein writes:

Can anyone cite Rodrik saying liberalize on a specific major American policy issue?

I would be very grateful if anyone can cite an example, write me at

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