Monday, November 19, 2012

Not Keen on Harsanyi.

Prof. Steve Keen and economics in general are having problems at the University of Western Sydney.

It's interesting how things never change...


Commemorative plaque to Mr. John Harsanyi (1920–2000) [A]
It is not very well-known that John (Janos, in Hungarian) Harsanyi, one of the 1994 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (together with John F. Nash, of "A Beautiful Mind" fame, and Reinhard Selten), lived, studied and worked in Australia.

Having arrived in Sydney in 1950, Harsanyi studies in his native Hungary were not fully recognized. Newly married, Harsanyi had to work in a factory during the day, and study towards a MA at night, at the University of Sydney.

He received a MA degree from Sydney in 1953 and in 1954 managed to get a teaching position at the University of Queensland.

In 1956, Harsanyi, who was already a published author, was awarded a Rockefeller scholarship. With that support, Harsanyi spent two years in the U.S. at Stanford University, where he wrote a dissertation on game theory, under the supervision of Kenneth Arrow (1972 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences), which earned him a second PhD in Economics.

Returning to Australia, Harsanyi worked for the Australian National University, at Canberra.

However, frustrated with the lack of interest for game theory in Australia, Harsanyi moved to the U.S., where, with the support of Arrow he eventually found a permanent position at the University of California, Berkeley, until his retirement in 1990.


They were not too keen on Harsanyi, and that's how the Australian universities shot themselves in the foot once. Now, the University of Western Sydney could be making the same mistake with Steve Keen and economics.

Image Credits:
[A] Commemorative plaque to Mr. John Harsany (1920–2000). Wikipedia.


  1. Fascinating! Thanks for posting this. I had no idea. I applied to a few Australian Unis, and the bureaucracy (in some of them) was second probably only to the ludicrous bureaucracy in most US community colleges.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Clint.

    In my experience, for what it's worth, the biggest unis here (the so-called sandstone unis: Sydney, UNSW in Sydney; UMelb in Melbourne) appear to be more interested in catering for full-fee paying foreign students doing masters and tend to neglect PhD students by research (which some twelve/ten years ago were even HECS exempted).

    If you were attempting a PhD, I sure can relate.