Dissertation Abstracts

The Methodology and Theory of Total Factor Productivity Research: Present Tensions and Future Possibilities

Author: Sayes, Edwin M., e.sayes@student.unimelb.edu.au
Department: Sociology
University: University of Melbourne, Australia
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Economic Sociology , Sociology of Economics , Methodology , Sociology of Science
Areas of Research: Economy and Society , Science and Technology , Theory


In this thesis, I bring together a discussion of methodology with a critical account of research into mainstream economics, in particular, the analysis of total factor productivity (TFP). I demonstrate how an explicit discussion of methodology provides a novel critique of mainstream economics and, further, explain how such a critique might help to promote dialogue and conversation between mainstream economists, heterodox economists, and economics sociologists. I first consider the methodological aspirations that are logically consistent with the concept of TFP, its placement in the production function, and it role in the analysis of economic growth. I focus on the methodological imperatives that can be derived from the conceptual framework of TFP: the inclusivity of mediation and systematicity. I argue that the practice of TFP researchers is inconsistent with these methodological aspirations and thus their own conceptual framework. I go on to consider the implications of these methodological aspirations for the practice of TFP researchers and, ultimately, for the development of a consistent theory of TFP. My starting point, here, is social production within the context of specific organisational forms. From this starting point, I branch out towards the environment in which socially determined production takes place: inter-organisational relations, institutional relations, and social structural relations.

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