A Road Not Taken: economists, historians of science and the making of the Bowman report

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  • Univ Lausanne


This essay investigates a hitherto-unexamined collaboration between two of the founders of modern history of science, Henry Guerlac and I. Bernard Cohen, and two economists, Paul Samuelson and Rupert Maclaurin. The arena in which these two disciplines came together was the Bowman Committee, one of the committees that prepared material for Vannevar Bush’s Science—The Endless Frontier. The essay shows how their collaboration helped to shape the committee’s recommendations, in which different models of science confronted each other. It then shows how, despite this success, the basis for long-term collaboration of economists and historians of science disappeared, because the resulting linear model of science and technology separated the study of scientific and economic progress into noncommunicating boxes.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-106
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Bowman Report, Bush Report, Sceicne policy, Cohen, Guerlac, Samuelson, Maclaurin

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