Money and Growth: Collected Essays of Allyn Abbott Young by Perry Mehrling

By Perry Mehrling

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For this and other reasons it appears to be desirable that a group of research workers should try to agree upon the general range of problems to which they are to devote their effort. As their studies proceed, a common field of interests will be created; new methods and new ideas will become common property; one good piece of work will set a standard for others. As a result of building up a group interest in a common range of problems in this natural way, the work of the group will have a natural unity, and will itself grow in a natural way.

But if it is to be anything more than mere fact-finding, it calls also for imagination, for the ability to see a problem and to devise hypotheses that are worth testing. Industry fortunately is not an uncommon virtue. Technique may be acquired. But imagination, and especially the kind of imagination that keeps its moorings, is rare. That is one reason why we ought to put our emphasis upon the individual investigator rather than upon a fixed program of research; why we should try to make it possible for the man with ideas to do the particular things he wants to do rather than the things we want to see done.

We ought to welcome sound work in the field of economics—work that really contributes to our understanding of economic problems,—whatever its orientation and whatever method or technique it employs. The prerequisite to this degree of tolerance is the recognition of the fact that no one orientation can possibly lay bare the whole field of the economist’s interests. II I hesitate to try to say towards what particular economic problems research could most profitably be directed just now. The difficulty is partly in the necessity of fitting research problems to the interests and equipment of the individual investigator and to the resources available to him, and partly in the rich diversity of important problems.

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