What historical background Van Overtveldt offers, he primarily draws from interviews he personally conducted and memoirs of various Chicago economists, especially Milton Friedman. In the introduction, Van Overtveldt (2007, p. 15) sheds light on his methodology; he states that he based his historical analysis on three layers of sources: “The first layer includes the books, essays, monographs, and articles published in academic journals by Chicago and non-Chicago economists…The second layer consists of material that is available in the archives of the University of Chicago…and in the files of the Communications Department of the University of Chicago. The third layer [draws from]…the more than 100 interviews that were conducted from 1994 to 2003.” Regarding the third, Van Overtveldt has provided a valuable historical contribution by compiling such an extensive oral history. Of the three layers Van Overtveldt mentions, the second is relatively thin. In the endnotes, Van Overtveldt only cites, excluding newspaper citations, seven archival sources from either the Special Collections at the University of Chicago or the files in Chicago's Communications Department. Tellingly, in the endnotes, the ratio of interview citations to archival citations is roughly 120:7≅17:1.1 While adducing interviews per se is not problematic, information in an interview (or a memoir) needs to be checked against archival sources. Historian of economic thought, Bruce Caldwell (2007, pp. 348–349), cautions “[One should] take reminiscences with a grain of salt, and whenever possible to consult multiple archival sources.”2 If a reflection cannot be checked against archival sources, it should be used with guarded skepticism. Van Overtveldt, however, unquestioningly relies on interviews; in fact, a retrospective point made by Friedman sometimes trumps assertions, explicit and implicit, critical of Chicago economics and its history. Van Overtveldt (2007, p. 27) plays the Friedman trump card, for example, in the following context:[Crauford] Goodwin noted that by the end of the 1940s, prominent members of the business community backed economists who preached the advantages of free competition and capitalism and ‘were all associated with the University of Chicago.’ Friedman strongly denies the relevance of this Cold War argument and the implied patronage of economics – especially at the University of Chicago – by business interests in favor of capitalism and the free-market economy.
Van Horn, R. (2009), " the Chicago School How should the rise of the Chicago school be explained?van Overtveldt's", Samuels, W.J., Biddle, J.E. and Emmett, R.B. (Ed.) A Research Annual (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 27 Part 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 297-308. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0743-4154(2009)00027A018Download as .RIS
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