FT-INET scholars are ‘Human After All’

Martin Wolf / INET Scholars in Toronto

Students are an important audience for media organizations.

The FT’s Team Communities, working closely with editorial, has worked on several experiments so far to cultivate relationships with our student audiences by providing unique, relevant, and delightful opportunities for them.

In April 2014, Team Communities partnered with the Institute for Economic Thinking (INET) to provide scholarships for seven students to attend their plenary 2014 conference, called, “Human After All”.

We asked applicants to pose a question that concerned fundamental issues in economics as a discipline, current economic events, or specific issues (such as financial stability or inequality), and a paragraph supporting why his or her question was important.

For instance, one student asked:

What are the long-term implications for economic growth of the recent trend in corporate governance to favour non-shareholding constituencies?

He provided this evidence: At the turn of the century, the consensus corporate governance model was to maximise the market value of the corporation’s shares. Non-shareholding constituencies, or stakeholders, were protected through other contractual and regulatory avenues. Today—after a decade rife with corporate malfeasance and a devastating financial crisis—the model appears to be shifting. Corporate social responsibility is now vogue in both the academy and in the boardroom. There are two explanations why many major corporations are adopting corporate governance models that favour non-shareholding constituencies. One possibility is that corporate governors are responding to post-crisis corporate vilification with appeasement. An alternative view is that the homo economicus, self-interested being is not actually descriptive of today’s shareholders. As corporations change their governance models to adapt to these changing circumstances, what will be the long-term effect on economic growth?

Another asked:

How do you know an innovation when you see one?

and wrote: Income inequality is one of the biggest challenges facing economists and governments. Recently, there has been growing research(ILO, WB, EC, IMF) on the functional distribution of income and particularly, understanding the puzzling decline of the labor share. Among developed nations, some research shows that technology has had a negative effect on the labor share. However, among developing nations, this effect is inconclusive, but some suggest it has a positive effect on the labor share. Another discussion has been the effect of capital augmenting technological change that is high-skill biased causing a shift in the personal distribution of income. However, technological progress has been an important factor for economies long before the recent phenomena. Only since the 1980s has the world saw income inequality increase and the labor share decline. Is it really new technology that is a significant contribution to rising income inequality?

We received more than 600 submissions for the seven available scholarships.

Together, the FT and INET chose seven students from around the world to attend and to take part in the conference. All seven scholars participated in a panel at the Young Scholar’s Initiative with Martin Wolf, asking him hard hitting economic questions.

Some of the feedback:

“Having a chance to speak with Martin, having a real opportunity to interact with him” provides an incentive to look at his future work.
Martin’s panel was “excellent. The forum provided a great way to engage with students.”
“Very excited to be considered for this scholarship, and kudos to the FT for sponsoring it! It’s an excellent idea.”

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