Ideas, Funding, and Positions: The Elements of a Successful Intellectual Movement, and the Role of Peter J. Boettke in Advancing Austrian Economics

Article excerpt


The record of Peter J. Boettke's mentorship of PhD students in economics is particularly impressive, using the criteria of his former students' intellectual contributions, their success in obtaining funding for their activities, and their positions within academia. The record shows that Boettke has had unequaled success as a mentor of doctoral students in Austrian and Market Process economics.

JEL Codes: A23, B23

Keywords: Graduate economics education; Austrian economics

I. Introduction

There are numerous ways to evaluate mentors and their various styles and approaches. But perhaps the most important way to evaluate a mentor is in terms of students' career results. The quality of a mentor becomes obvious when a track record has been established and one can look at the success of his mentees. In the case of PhD advisors in economics, a mentor's track record is observed in the professional success of his students. By this standard, Pete Boettke has shown unique success among his peers at George Mason University and among professional Austrian-school economists.

Since coming to George Mason in 1997, Boettke has chaired 16 dissertations. Fourteen of those 16 advisees are currently teaching at colleges and universities, and the other two are affiliated with university-affiliated policy and research centers. Eleven of the 14 in teaching positions are currently on the tenure track. By now there are surely more, but as of this writing those students have produced at least 212 unique journal articles and seven academic books, four authored and three edited volumes. I know what you are thinking, but even without Coyne and Leeson, the total is 153 unique journal articles and two academic books.

Peter Boettke has often emphasized the three key elements of a successful academic movement: ideas, funding, and positions. This chapter lays out his successes in advancing his advisees on all three fronts.

II. Ideas

The first and arguably most important component of an intellectual movement is the movement's intellectual contribution, particularly the published scholarship it generates. In this area, Boettke's former students seem to have been particularly successful and influential. The aggregate publications of Boettke's former students are given in Table 1 .

Tenure-track academics at nearly all levels face a practical reality: peer-reviewed journal articles are their main measurable output, and are generally the most rewarded. By this standard alone, Boettke has been an unusually successful advisor and mentor. Without doublecounting co-authored articles, Boettke's 16 former students (through 2009) have published 212 journal articles. Furthermore, the actual number could be slightly higher, as only published and forthcoming work was included, and the numbers in Table 1 are based on information gathered from his former students' CVs in March 2010. More up-todate CVs would likely increase the total even higher. The numbers are extremely impressive for a group of academics so early in their careers. For example, Christopher Coyne, who is among the top publishers in this group of Boettke advisees, received his doctorate less than five years ago. In fact, as of this writing, nine of the 16 advisees are within five years of their graduation date, and 15 of the 16 graduated within the past 10 years.

As impressive as this record of journal articles is, Boettke's former students publish beyond traditional academic journals. As Table 1 indicates, his advisees also go on to make regular contributions to books, publish policy papers, write book reviews, and produce a variety of other writings, including op-eds. Four of Boettke's students, all within the past few years, have also authored books of their own, and others have edited academic volumes. Even more impressive are the academic publishers involved, which among others include the University of Chicago Press, Stanford University Press, Routledge, and Princeton University press. …