I try to make a contribution to the field of cultural economics with the value based approach that I am developing. New are the notions of shared goods, and the four sphere model. Of course, I hope that they will prove to be contributions but that the community of scholars will determine. I hope to make a major contribution with the Quality Impact monitor that I am developing with others. I make serious efforts to educate students and professionals in the worlds of art and culture. I am proud of the Master of Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship that I helped to develop and of the series of workshops on Cultural Economics and the values of culture that I am doing with Creare throughout the world (eg in Amsterdam, India, Uganda, Japan, Portugal, Venice, Brazil and Let land).
Most important is the PhD program for which I am responsible. Already 18 people achieved their PhD and most of them have good careers in academia (5 of whom became full professor). Currently around 14 people from all over the world are working towards their PhD under my supervision. I also try to contribute to professional education in the liberal arts. I have tried to develop a unique University in Deventer, Academia Vitae, but the recessions forced me to cease the effort. I am now involved in setting up a sequel under the name of Academia of Liberal Arts. In this Academia we take the classics seriously.I also try to contribute to societal and political discussions by means of lectures, columns, debates and am now involved in local politics (to discover how complex and demanding the craft of politics is).
And I want to take care of my family and be there for friends and students.
The first part of my scholarly career was dedicated to a critical study of the science of economics. I wanted to understand peculiarities of that science such as the persistent disagreements among economists, the limited relevence of economics for policy, and the empirical difficulties that face. This culminated in the book Conversations with Economists (1984) first and then Speaking of Economics: How to be in the conversation (2006).
The first book consists of conversations with well known macroeconomists about a controversy in macroeconomics. It was quite a succes and became a motivation for many to study economics (at least, so I was told). In the second book I developed the rethorical approach that Deirde McCloskey and I introduced in economics. My suggestion is that economics is a conversation, or better, a bunch of conversations.
After 1994, I turned to the subject or cultural economics, and specifically, the world of the arts. I was struck by the resistance towards economics in that world, and struggled with the financial aspects. Together with Giep Hagoort I introduced the notion of cultural entrepeneurship in the discussion and called attention to the phenomenon of the gift and the role of the socalled third sector (together with PW Zuidhof). I published several books (like the value of culture in 1996) and some articles on the subject.
My Dutch book In Hemelsnaam reveals the contours of a new value based thinking that I developed to make sense of the cultural world. The foundation for the value based approach is in the book Doing the Right Thing: a Value Based Economy. The first edition came out in 2016, the web edition with Ubiquity press in 2017.
This book redefines economics as the science that studies the realization of values, introduces the notion of shared goods and a model of five spheres for the valorization of values, and motivates the so-called quality impact monitor. Quite a few master and PhD students are applying the value based approach in their work. We give workshops (through Creare) on the value based approach and qualitative monitoring.
Apart from my scholarly work I am active in a range of organisations. In the first decade of this century I tried to found a new university, Academia Vitae in Deventer. I could not make it last – one of my disapointments- and am now working on a sequel, Stichting Akademeia.
From 2014 until July 2017 I was a governor ( a sort of alderman) in the city of Hilversum for the socialist party. There I learned how to govern and how to do politics. The challenge was to apply things I had learned in my scholarly work. I succeeded partially.
Privately I feel privileged with a nice home in Hilversum, the Netherlands, a wife and 2,3,4 or five children, depending on how I count.
As a cultural economist I view the economy as merely instrumental; we all strive to realize that what is important to us. That what is important is part of our culture; it constitutes the content of our lives and our society. In our days the instrumental perspective prevails. Firms strive for profits, and individuals for happiness. The question is what profit and happiness are good for. Might there be other things that are more important? Content is especially important in the world of the arts, but also in the academic world and in religion. But I also distinguish the search for content, for purpose in the business world. Politics is about content, too. Only when it gets translated into policy, its substance often makes way for the instrumental part. This shows in the predilection for quantification, for evidence that comes in numbers.
My family is most important to me. Family anecdotes often pop up in my writing because they are the first I am thinking of. My family is a complex one. When asked how many kids I have, my answer is 2, 3, 4 or 5. You may figure out what that means.
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