New Economics Journal Dedicates Issue to UB Economist Gort

Release Date: October 28, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Society for Economic Dynamics has dedicated the second issue of its new journal, Review of Economic Dynamics, to Michael Gort of Snyder, University at Buffalo professor of economics.

All of the articles in the issue relate to Gort's principal themes and ideas, notably the nature of technological change and its impact on other variables.

A member of the UB faculty since 1963, Gort is a specialist in the field of industrial organization. His research and publications focus on the economics of innovation, the measurement of technical change and the economics of regulation.

"The far-reaching influence of Michael Gort's work is only now becoming apparent," writes Boyan Jovanovic of the Department of Economics at New York University in his introductory essay in the issue.

Referring to the fact that Gort served from 1954-57 on the research staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research after obtaining his doctorate from Columbia University, Jovanovic notes that his work "has consistently been in the best Bureau tradition," which focuses on bringing "'relevant, sound evidence to bear on interesting economic questions.'

"To work in this tradition," he adds, "one must use economic theory to select appropriate data and procedures, and having done so, understand the quality of the data and the limits to which conclusions can be pushed. Proceeding in this way, Gort has measured economic magnitudes not previously measured…and he has estimated parameters not previously estimated…"

Jovanovic adds: "The unifying theme of Gort's work…is technological change -- its nature and its impact on other variables.

"For example, in his study of diversification Gort examined technological linkages between a firm's base industry and those into which it diversified. His work on mergers dealt with the impact of economic shocks (including technical change) on dispersion in valuations and, hence, merger frequencies. Gort's study of the diffusion of innovations and of firm survival rates established a systematic product life-cycle and some of its attributes. Finally, his work on

productivity examined the role of learning by doing, of capital and organization learning, and the impact of vintage of capital on productivity."

Gort's contributions to the field of dynamic economics are of major significance, say his colleagues, citing in particular his important papers on firm and industry dynamics, and on productivity and mergers, all of which have added greatly to the understanding of how a market works from birth to maturity.

Jovanovic points out that with co-author B.H. Bahk, Gort wrote the definitive study of learning at the industrial plant level. He also was among the first economists to conduct an empirical examination of the legitimacy of aggregating capital service, an issue that has occupied North American and European economic theorists for more than 40 years.

Gort's research on the diffusion of innovations and of firm survival rates was important because it established a systematic product life-cycle and some of its attributes, Jovanovic says.

On a personal level, he notes: "Michael always impresses me with his intellectual curiosity and his modesty. He rarely mentions his past work -- he would rather tell you about his next project. Past work, he once said, will 'speak for itself.' Well, this volume and the many references to Michael that it contains shows he was right!"

A graduate of Brooklyn College, Gort received a master's degree from Columbia University in 1951 and a doctorate from Columbia three years later. He served as an associate professor of finance in the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago from 1957-62 and as a consultant to the Office of Business Economics in the U.S. Department of Commerce from 1962-63.

He was a visiting professor of economics at Northwestern University from 1967-68 and from 1971-75 served as director of the Research Program in Industrial Organization on the senior research staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The author of "Diversification and Integration in American Industry" (1962, Princeton University Press), Gort also has written monographs and more than three dozen articles in economic journals and publications.

He has held fellowships with the National Science Foundation, National Bureau of Economic Research and Social Science Research Council. He has served as a consultant to the New York State Department of Health; the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare; the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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