Association for Heterodox Economics

Minutes from the Annual General Meeting held during the 19th Annual Conference, Manchester University, Monday, July 10th, 2017

 

Apologies: Alan Freeman

 

Minutes from the 2016 AGM in Glasgow

 

The 2016 minutes were approved.

 

Coordinator’s report

 

Among her comments, Wendy Olsen, the Joint Coordinator (with Thoralf Dassler), reported that the AHE Research Ethics statement had been approved and a proposal for a Code of Conduct was under consideration.  To take this further, Wendy said it would be desirable to introduce a members’ voting procedure.

 

Financial report (Bruce Cronin)

 

The Treasurer reported that income, expenditure and the balance sheet totals were all up significantly from the previous year.  However, the surplus was smaller and members’ funds were reduced, largely because the 2017 Conference had to be marked up to the AHE’s own account this year.

 

Association for Heterodox Economics - Financial Report 1 July 2016 - 30 June 2017

PG workshop increase offset by CPEST Grant, so net reduction in cost.

Operation of 2017 conference through general account complicates comparative reporting of balance sheet

£3,800 decline in members' funds from conference loss.

Bruce Cronin, Treasurer, 7.7.17

Statement of Income and Expenditure

Balance Sheet

2017

2016

 

30/6/2017

30/6/2016

Income

Assets

Membership Dues

 2,421.27

 1,860.00

Conference fees due

 2,210.74

Donations

 20.00

 90.00

Coop Bank

 25,504.44

 15,344.79

*

CPEST Grant

2,500.00

Paypal

 5,539.66

 1,342.42

Interest

 2.00

Total Assets

 31,044.10

 16,687.21

Conference surplus

4,327.08

3,944.13

Total Income

9,268.35

5,896.13

Liabilities

Website

487.16

Advance payment of dues     470.00

Expenditure

2017 conference

 14,813.45

PG workshop

 3,251.06

 2,216.61

Conference keynotes

 2,400.00

Website

 1,012.26

 487.16

Conf bursaries/prize

 1,875.00

Mgmt Committee Expenses

 279.90

Members' Funds

 11,485.65

 16,200.05

2017 Conf deposit

3,021.48

Total Liabilities

 31,044.10

 16,687.21

2016 conf Bursaries          962.70

Misc conference exp           11.20

 

Bank Fees

 114.91

 96.80

Total Expenditure

8,373.61

3,080.47

Surplus (Deficit)

894.74

2,815.66

* restated

 

The report was accepted, with thanks to the Treasurer.

 

Nominations

 

The following members were nominated for the officer positions shown, and elected without opposition:

Coordinator: Simon Mouatt

Secretary: Tom Lines

Membership Secretary: Wendy Olsen

Treasurer: Bruce Cronin

Diversity Officer: Miriam Kennet

Webmaster: Anders Eckland

Neil Lancastle: 2018 Conference Coordinator.

 

In addition to Professors Victoria Chick and Alan Freeman (Honorary Life Presidents), the following were elected or co-opted as members of the Management Committee, with functions designated where appropriate:

Scientific (Academic) Secretary: Thoralf Dassler

Andrew Mearman: Postgraduate Workshop Coordinator

Social Media Officer: Alexandra Arnsten.

Ioana Negru

Phil Armstrong

Kalim Siddiqui

Radhika Desai

Arturo Hermann

Pritam Singh

Gary Mongiovi.

 

A Student Liaison Officer remained to be nominated, for approval by the Management Committee.

 

2018 Conference location and theme

 

An offer for the 2018 Conference to take place at De Montfort University, Leicester was accepted, with thanks.  Neil Lancastle, the coordinator, offered the working title of Rethinking Economics.

 

A proposal was made to hold the 2019 Conference in Transylvania, Romania.

 

Ethical statement and charter (please note attached)

 

These two new documents had been circulated to all members and were duly noted.  Copies are annexed.

Rethinking Economics Festival

 

The AHE’s engagement with this Festival, to take place at the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh on October 19th-20th, 2017, was duly noted and approved.  The organising partners are Rethinking Economics, the Young Scholars Initiative, Exploring Economics, Evonomics, The Minskys and the History of Economic Thought website.

 

Postgraduate Workshop (Andrew Mearman)

 

It was proposed to make £3,000 net available from AHE funds for this consistently successful event.   This was duly approved.

 

AOB

 

None.

 

 

Annexes:

 

  1. A Research Ethics Code for Economists
  2. An Economists’ Research Ethics Charter

A Research Ethics Code for Economists

 

Association for Heterodox Economics (AHE)

 

The first role of the Association for Heterodox Economics (AHE, www.hetecon.net ) as a learned society is to support its members, and by doing so, to help the members' audiences carry out their own economics work whether it be policy advice, practical action or research.  We want these to be of the very highest quality.

 

This statement offers an ethical platform for economists around the world.  It is mainly about ethics for research purposes, and the statement is deliberately pluralist. We recognise that economists use a variety of theories and approaches (Dow, 2004).  This statement aims to be useful to economists and not to be ethnocentric.

 

AHE also aims to encourage the many other societies that contain economists to move toward mixed methods of research. The use of qualitative methods inevitably is a part of economic research.

 

AHE therefore explicitly sets out (here) a range of ethically agreeable ways of doing research.  We do that by setting out some exhortations –both what one should and should not do.

 

The first guiding principle is doing no harm (ESRC, 2012 also places doing no harm as primary).  Typically, individual researchers will validate that they do no harm by developing a ‘research clearance’ application. In cases where some harm can be foreseen, mitigation by explicit, strategic action will minimise harm.  Examples might be where tensions lie in the economy anyway, so that probing a situation is likely to lead to concern (perhaps exemplified by the study of child labour, hazardous labour, and the study of corruption).

 

We want to enable economists to do research on a very broad range of topics. Economists must protect all participants, even where there is a risk of harm, and thus support the more innovative forms of research rather than having them be avoided by a series of generations of economists.

 

The participants in research, whose safety and freedom from harm is being protected, include the research team, bystanders who are directly affected, and those who are interviewed or observed.  

 

Professionals form a special group as the subjects of research. When professionals speak from or about their usual place of work on topics relevant to their work, they may need not give consent. If they are informed that their responses are considered research data, and they agree to participate, it can be deemed to be an informed consent by virtue of them being well-informed of what 'giving an opinion' or giving data to you, as a researcher, will involve.  

 

No covert research may occur. In particular, the materials that professionals or other people personally put into the public realm in the social networks, internet and other social media should not, as a whole, be considered research data. Only those which are put up after informed consent is given can be considered research data.

 

An example is that the words of those participating in a public meeting should not be considered research data unless informed consent has been gained.  It is easy enough to place posters around the room in advance, known as Participant Information Sheets, and ask permission en masse at the start of the public meeting. This is the proper way to do research on the public activities of both professionals and lay people.

 

In pilot projects, participants need to give informed consent if the project goes beyond ordinary scoping. Ordinary scoping uses materials that are already in the public realm.

 

Research will comply with the legal system to which the researcher’s institution is subject and, where different, the legal system relevant to other participants. The laws include the Data Protection laws. It is the responsibility of the researcher (/team) to ensure they know enough about both legal systems to comply with these laws.  Having obtained research clearance on this basis, and taking due care of the legal and safety aspects, researchers generally are supported by their own institution in any legal case. That includes cases involving third party injury.  Hence it is best to have the signature of relevant administrators in the institution alongside the researchers’ signatures on the research clearance documents. As more members join a research team, training should take place, and then these people’s names should be added to the research clearance documents.

 

Research involving participation of anyone other than the research team cannot take place before the documentation has been prepared.  Research methods documents thus need to be prepared carefully. An interim version can be created for pilot studies, subject to local rules.

 

There should always be a reasoned argument for the benefits of the research to society (Dow, 2012, 2013). This argument must be plausible to a lay audience. It should appear in the Participant Information Sheet.  It should also be acceptable to an audience of reasonably well informed academics, taking into account the possibility that disagreement may exist about valued forms of knowledge, or about the facts of a situation.  The argument should convincingly show that, through perhaps empirical investigation or a theoretical reformulation, the benefits of the research can flow to stakeholders. The more basic forms of research may have an impact on forms of models and conceptualisations of things that are fundamental to knowledge, and hence will affect discourses about economies. The contested nature of economic knowledge forms the grounding basis for the AHE having an assertive pluralist approach to economics (Freeman, 2012; Olsen, 2007).

           

Researchers who have contact with human participants have to get written informed consent.  The information given to participants will include details of what will happen during their participation as well as what will happen to data created in relation to them.  Informed consent will be in writing as far as practicable. With due regard to local culture, there are instances in which a tape recording of oral informed consent may be adequate; or verbal consent itself may be obtained and then noted in writing by the research team. In some projects, repeatedly taking informed consent may be advisable due to ongoing project alterations. These changes notably happen in action research and during impact workshops or other processes that have multiple stakeholder inputs.

 

No one should be coerced into participating with the researchers (ESRC, 2012). Coercion can arise through power differentials, e.g employees cannot have their consent given by their employer because it may involve them being coerced; and children of an age to make informed decisions must give consent in addition to their main carer giving consent for them to participate.

 

Researchers must keep confidentiality once it is promised (Olsen and Khadaroo, 2015).  In cases where confidentiality is difficult to achieve, such as focus groups, we set out guidelines in advance for participants so that a reasonable expectation of a level of care is set up.  In general write-ups from such face to face situations are made anonymous through the use of pseudonyms.

 

Research teams should ensure participant anonymity if requested and in so far as one is able.  Informed consent includes letting people have a reasonable idea of what confidentiality and what anonymity they will have (sample consent form available from the UK Data Archive, 2014).  

 

References:

Dow, Sheila (2004). Structured Pluralism. Journal of Economic Methodology 11 (3):275-290.

Dow, Sheila (2012).  Codes of Ethics for Economists: A Pluralist View. Conference paper:  World Economics Association Conference on Economics in Society: The Ethical Dimension. URL https://weaethicsconference.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/dow-ethics-for-wea1.pdf, Accessed Sept. 2015.  

Dow, Sheila (2013). Codes of Ethics for Economists: A Pluralist View, Economic Thought 2.1:20-29, 2013.  http://et.worldeconomicsassociation.org/files/WEA-ET-2-1-Dow.pdf, accessed Sept. 2015.

Economic & Social Research Council (2012). Framework for Research Ethics, ESRC, 2012. http://www.esrc.ac.uk/_images/framework-for-research-ethics-09-12_tcm8-4586.pdf, accessed July 2013.

Freeman, Alan (2012).  Towards an assertive pluralist code of conduct for economists, conference paper, World Economics Association (WEA),

URL https://weaethicsconference.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/freeman-wea-20121.pdf, Accessed Sept. 2015.

Lawson, Tony (1997).  Economics and Reality.  Series:  Economics as Social Theory. London:  Routledge.

Olsen, Wendy (2007). Pluralist Methodology for Development Economics: The Example of Moral Economy of Indian Labour Markets. Journal of Economic Methodology 14 (1):57-82.

Olsen, Wendy (2015).  Social Justice and Strategic Structuralism:  A Sweeping Socio-Economic Perspective, Chapter in Economics of Social Justice, forthcoming, Reading:  Green Economics Institute.

Olsen, Wendy, and Nathan Khadaroo (2015).  Why Do Ethics Matter? Answers from the Gender Norms and Labour Supply Project.  Briefing Paper 2, Manchester:  University of Manchester.

UK Data Archive (2014). Consent Form. Available from URL:  http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/media/210661/ukdamodelconsent.doc    Accessed August 2014.

           

An Economists’ Research Ethics CHARTER

Association for Heterodox Economics (AHE)

We the undersigned agree to follow the charter:

 

Acknowledging:  Economists around the world can have a shared ethical platform.

Warning that:  Ethics for research purposes is fraught with dangers of accidentally doing harm.

Noting that:  all harm is not intentional, and intent is not required for harm to occur, so we try our best to avoid doing harm,

WE THEREFORE AGREE TO raise awareness of the possible good and harm that may result from any research, intervention, policy or model of/in an economy.  Our statements are deliberately pluralist.

IN GENERAL WE AGREE TO DO NO HARM, USE INFORMED CONSENT, AVOID DANGERS THAT MIGHT FACE BYSTANDERS WHEN WE DO RESEARCH, DO NO COVERT RESEARCH, FOLLOW OUR OWN ETHICAL CODE, INVOKE THE CODE EVEN FOR PILOT PROJECTS, and DEVELOP a reasoned argument for the benefits of the research to society.

We will keep confidentiality once it is promised, use anonymity where appropriate, keep anonymity through careful use of pseudonyms once it is promised, including regional/institutional pseudonyms, protect our research participants from unwise disclosures, and follow the ETHICAL GUIDELINES OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCIL in all cases, and further ethical guidelines of other appropriate groups in civil society where appropriate.

We will follow our home institution’s data management guidelines and we will follow all the laws of the host country as well as our own country of residence for any research activity.  This means, in turn, we will follow the relevant DATA PROTECTION ACT. 

Economic & Social Research Council (2012). Framework for Research Ethics, ESRC, 2012.

http://www.esrc.ac.uk/_images/framework-for-research-ethics-09-12_tcm8-4586.pdf,

accessed July 2013