Faculty profiles

Members of the Economics Department

Benjamin N. Ward

Professor Emeritus

Comparative Economic Systems, Philosophy and Methodology of Economics
Current Status

About Benjamin N. Ward

Benjamin N. Ward taught for 32 years in the Economics Department at UC Berkeley and also received his Bachelor's and PhD degrees from there. His teaching covered 36 years, including two years as an Assistant Professor at Stanford and two years abroad in Greece and Hong Kong. He retired in 1992.

Ward had two main research fields: Comparative Economic Systems, and Philosophy and Methodology of Economics. The first of these is a rather broad field, and led him into a range of research, from worker management in Yugoslavia (Illyria, 1958; Worker's Management, 1957) through modelling of socialist economic structures (Soc.Ec. 1967), the use of mathematical techniques in Soviet Russian planning (LP, 1967), comparative development (Yug.Ec.Hist., 1978; Grk.Reg.Dev., 1962; ChiEc.Dev., 1980), and economic planning in the West (Natl.Econ.Plan.Eur, 1975). He served as Director of the Department's program on the Greek economy, as Chair of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies, and spent a year in Hong Kong initiating a UC Berkelely master's degree program in Chinese studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was President of the Comparative Economics Association, and served as Principal Investigator for a Macarthur grant supporting both faculty research and graduate fellowships in interdisciplinary national security studies (5 years, $1 million).

Ward produced two books in his second field, Philosophy and Methodology, and is nearing completion of a third. The first of these (What'sWrong, 1972), focused on the way in which well-defined puzzles and social and career pressures give institutional structure to the field. The second (Ideal Worlds,1979), focused on the substantial role of ideology--liberal, conservative, and radical, in shaping economic research. The third emphasizes uncertainty and risk-seeking behavior as systematically underestimated by the discipline. A paper (LEP, 1988) offers an alternative way of appraising the results of economic activity, which is developed further in the book on uncertainty and risk-seeking.

It is unusual for someone who chose breadth over depth to survive in a major research university like UC-Berkeley. However it's quite natural for such a person to have a strong interest in teaching. Ward did regularly teach a variety of graduate courses in the Economics Department (Comparative Economic Systems, European Economic History, Political Economics, National Economic Planning), but was especially drawn to undergraduates who were not planning a career as an economist. The more energetic among them will likely be among the movers and shakers of the next generation, and teaching them was a delight.


Selected Publications:

The Socialist Economy, A Study of Organizational Alternatives, 1967, Random House.

What's Wrong With Economics? 1972, Basic Books

The Ideal Worlds of Economics, 1979, Basic Books

Problems of Greek Regional Development, 1962, Center of Economic Research monograph series, Athens.

(With George W. Breslauer & Harry Kreisler) Beyond the Cold War: Conflict and Cooperation in the Third World, UC Berkeley International and Area Studies 1991

Articles and Contributions to Books:

"Firm in Illyria: Market Syndicalism," The American Economic Review, Vol 48 #4 (Sept 1958), pp 566-589.

"Worker's Management in Yugoslavia," Journal of Political Economy, LXV #5, Oct. 1957

"Linear Programming & Soviet Planning," in Mathematics & Computers in Soviet Economic Planning, Yale Russian & East European Studies 5. Ed. J. P. Hardt, M. Hoffenberg, N. Kaplan & H.S. Levine, Yale Univ. Press 1967

"National Economic Planning & Policies in 20th C. Europe 1920-1970" in Carlo Cipolla, ed. Fontana Economic History of Europe, v. 5 1975.

"Political Power & Economic Change in Yugoslavia," American Economic Review, LVIII 2, May 1968, 568-79

"Yugoslav Economic History" in Irma Adelman, ed. conference volume l975(?)

"Chinese Approach to Economic Development" in Robert Dernberger, ed. The Chinese Economy in Comparative Perspective, 1980.

"LEP: An Alternative Criterion for Socio-Economic Valuation," Journal of Economic Issues vol XXII #3 Sept. 1988.

(With Douglas Pike), "Losing and Winning: Korea and Vietnam as Success Stories," Washington Quarterly vol.10 #3, Sept. 1987, pp 77-85.

"Dionysian Economics: Making Economics a Scientific Social Science," forthcoming in 2016 from Palgrave MacMillan