Monmouth Professors Explore Inequality Through Rhetoric

Two Business Professors Begin Production on Their Second Book

joan-robinsonTwo professors of the Leon Hess Business School published a critically acclaimed book in 2009 titled, “The Provocative Joan Robinson: The Making of a Cambridge Economist” and are currently working on the manuscript of a second book, set to be published around the start of 2015.

Nahid Aslanbeigui, professor of economics, finance, and real estate, and Guy Oakes, Jack T. Kvernland professor of philosophy and corporate social policy, wrote about the life of Joan Robinson, one of the few famous women economists.

“The Provocative Joan Robinson” focuses on Robinson’s struggles to make a career between 1929 and 1938.

Robinson studied economics at Cambridge University in the early 1920s in what Aslanbeigui calls “a very sexist environment.” Women who attended Cambridge were not awarded degrees until 1948, making it hard for those who graduated before then, like Robinson, to establish careers after finishing their time at college.

Despite that her chances of becoming a successful economist was incredibly low, Robinson overcame the gender inequalities of her time and eventually became a renowned woman in the field of economics.

“The book is not as much about economics as it is about how someone built a career,” Aslanbeigui said.

The book has been widely reviewed and praised since its release in 2009. The Times of London and the Journal of Economic Literature were among the many publications to review the book. In 2010 the History of Economics Society awarded “The Provocative Joan Robinson” the Joseph J. Spengler Best Book Prize.

Leading up to the creation of “The Provocative Joan Robinson,” Aslanbeigui studied letters that were written by the British upper-middle class between the two world wars. Aslanbeigui was intrigued by the content in these letters and saw the potential to write a book about it.

Since her particular area of research was the history of economic thought, she approached Oakes, who has expertise in the sociological, intellectual and philosophical aspects of career production, and the two professors worked together to write the book.

“We wrote the book as we thought it ought to be written without first securing a publishing contract,” Oakes explained. “That’s not the conventional way academic publishing is done. Generally, authors attempt to get a contract on the basis of an outline and a chapter,” Oakes added.

After finishing the book, they approached the Duke University Press and received a contract. “This is the first book to be published by a university press that has emerged from the MU business school in the last 15 years,” Oakes said.

Although neither author uses the book about Robinson in any of their classes, “use of the book in a course is less important than the contribution that the writing and research made to our skills as teachers,” Oakes said. “Nahid [Aslanbeigui] has incorporated the analytical tools we used in the book in teaching her courses and I have done the same,” he continued.

Currently, Aslanbeigui and Oakes are working on another book about another important economist, Arthur Cecil Pigou, the founder of welfare economics. Welfare economics is an area concerned with the impact of economic policy on the well-being of specific social groups as well as entire nations.

Palgrave Macmillan, an international academic and trade publishing company that distributes textbooks, journals, and professional and reference works both in print and online, will be publishing Aslanbeigui and Oakes’ book about Pigou and his work.