The credit incentive to be a maverick

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 76:5-12 (2019)
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Abstract

There is a commonly made distinction between two types of scientists: risk-taking, trailblazing mavericks and detail-oriented followers. A number of recent papers have discussed the question what a desirable mixture of mavericks and followers looks like. Answering this question is most useful if a scientific community can be steered toward such a desirable mixture. One attractive route is through credit incentives: manipulating rewards so that reward-seeking scientists are likely to form the desired mixture of their own accord. Here I argue that this idea is less straightforward than it may seem. Interpreting mavericks as scientists who prioritize rewards over speed and risk, I show in a deliberatively simple model that there is a fixed mixture which is not particularly likely to be desirable and which credit incentives cannot alter. I consider a way around this result, but this has some major drawbacks. I conclude that credit incentives are not as promising a way to create a desirable mixture of mavericks and followers as one might have thought.

Author's Profile

Remco Heesen
London School of Economics

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