The 2003 Veblen-Commons Award Recipient: F. Gregory Hayden

By Tool, Marc R. | Journal of Economic Issues, June 2003 | Go to article overview

The 2003 Veblen-Commons Award Recipient: F. Gregory Hayden


Tool, Marc R., Journal of Economic Issues


Our divergent ages notwithstanding, Greg Hayden has long been an impressive model for me of the exemplary professional scholar. He is an exceptional classroom instructor, an original theory builder, a frequent and vigorous policy advocate, a trusted political advisor, and an author of significant published works. In these roles he has repeatedly demonstrated mature analytical capabilities and an unwavering commitment to the formulation of substantive and pertinent theoretical explanations and their often courageous application in difficult circumstances. He is a rigorous devotee of democratic processes in economic policy making. More particularly, in his contributions to the theoretical literature in the application of neoinstitutional economics to the general area of policy making, and especially to environmental economics, he has few peers. It is altogether appropriate that Greg Hayden receive the Veblen-Commons Award. It is indeed well deserved.

Professor Hayden was born on August 14, 1939. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Kansas State University in 1962 and went on to the University of Texas in Austin, where he completed his Doctorate in Economics in 1968. He took classes from Clarence E. Ayres. The chair of his doctoral committee was Daniel C. Morgan, a Wisconsin institutionalist who also had studied with Ayres. Greg has been a member of the economics faculty at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln since 1967. My first extensive contact with Greg occurred when, shortly after my The Discretionary Economy was published in 1979, he invited me to come to the campus in Lincoln and serve as a guest lecturer for several days. We have been the best of friends ever since then.

In the years following I came to recognize that Greg is a superb lecturer-instructor-articulate, imaginative, substantive, and empathetic. He regularly involves his most able students in his research projects. They gain analytical skills. They assist him in the pursuit of his research projects; he assists them in developing their own research capabilities. Interestingly, Greg has served on some twenty-eight doctoral committees at UNL and was chair of fifteen.

One of Professor Hayden's most significant contributions is his service as role model for his students. As their instructor, he consistently demonstrates his commitment to intellectual integrity. He explains the importance of the continuing quest for new knowledge and the need for critical assessment of established "old" knowledge. He demonstrates how a scholar poses substantive analytical questions and undertakes modes of inquiry in pursuit of answers to them. He has been for many years an example of the committed and competent scholar for the hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students he has taught. He has succeeded admirably in demonstrating--with extraordinary skill, empathy, and imagination--the relevance and applicability of the institutionalist theoretical approach to contemporary issues and problems.

I wish to call your attention to two examples of Professor Hayden's work as a creative theorist. In the early 1980s, Greg created the "Social Fabric Matrix," an analytic instrument designed "to assist in describing the system and providing the data base for evaluation and planning especially in a complex technological society." In this model "values, beliefs, institutions, technology, and environment are integrated through the processes of reciprocity, redistribution or exchange." The matrix provides an approach to inquiry that suggests which facts to gather and how to arrange them for analysis "of dynamic systems in real time." It is an analytical tool wholly derived from his basic institutionalist perspective. His UNL Economics Department reports that "[t]he Social Fabric Matrix has been utilized for major research projects in numerous countries" including Australia, France, Iran, The Netherlands, Thailand, South Africa, and the United States. …

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