chapter  Four
14 Pages

American Economics and the Chamberlin Controversy

Economics was a major field of study in American universities in the early 1920s. There were more students, more courses, more faculty, more controversy, more applied economics, even in the Ivy League schools than in England. American economics was already characterized by schisms in method and approach. In addition, American philosophical pragmatism supported the idea that policy-making was as important as theorizing. In her foreword to Imperfect Competition, Joan Robinson made a brief acknowledgment of Edward Hastings Chamberlin's Theory of Monopolistic Competition, which convinced him that she had known more about his work than she admitted. The Chamberlin-Robinson publication coincidence is one of the six examples customarily cited of multiple discovery in economics. Joan Robinson first met Chamberlin at the International Economic Association conference in 1953, long after she had put aside imperfect competition as an interest.