Research statement

My research is generally dedicated to the analysis of institutions and economic development. I am interested in the economics of institutions, economic sociology and applied microeconomic analysis of development and public policy. There are two broadly related fields of interest that I have been pursuing with my work: I wrote on innovation, entrepreneurship and institutional change focusing on the case of surrogate motherhood in the US. I also did some work on history and philosophy of economic thought. What I am most interested in is how entrepreneurs legitimize novelty and how they make new artifacts compatible with markets.

With regard to the first field of interest, I have researched the causes and effects of institutional adaptation asking the question why is it that surrogate motherhood contracts are enforceable in some of the US jurisdictions and not in others? There are two papers that I wrote about the problem of institutional adaptation following a technological change. In the first paper (2016, Journal of Evolutionary Economics) I present an evolutionary economic perspective on various aspects of the entrepreneurial function and I analyze their impact on legitimizing novelty. I suggest that entrepreneurs do more than just buy low and sell high because they sometimes also change our institutions, including our categories of thought. When cultural categorization is ambiguous with regard to what the proper and permissible applications of novel artifacts are, entrepreneurs are agents of institutional change. This analysis of an understudied aspect of the entrepreneurial function is especially relevant to a broader question of the emergence of market-supporting institutional arrangements. Here is a talk where I explain the thesis:

In the second paper (ISNIE) I examine the problem of institutional change empirically. By means of duration analysis, I show that, through political processes, changing beliefs effect institutional change and that other factors, including accidents, imitation, and historical conditions, are also shown to have an effect on the probability of legal institutional change. By means of a comparative institutional analysis, I show that between the years 2003 and 2012 states with judge-made-surrogacy law registered systematically higher number of surrogate motherhood contracts than other states.

A more recent paper with Erwin Dekker follows up on my previous work on surrogacy and generalizes the analysis of the emergence of a market in reproductive services. In Kuchař and Dekker (forthcoming in Cosmos + Taxis) we argue that coordination processes which take place within markets are often shaped by other systems of non-price coordination, these non-price coordination systems can be thought of as emergent orders just like the price system is an emergent order. Our analysis builds on Adam Smith’s theory of sympathy which offers conceptual means for analyzing the emergence of such orders. We link Smith with contemporary work in economic sociology and we distinguish between different orders of worth explaining how they can help us understand the justification of the exchange and value of contested goods.

My second area of interest revolves around history and philosophy of science; I am particularly interested in the history or economic thought. In a chapter on consensus published in the Encyclopedia of Law and Economics (2015, Springer) I examine the process of consensus formation in science. Cognitive and epistemic division of labor create a problem of trust in the use and application of knowledge, in this chapter, I suggest that the reliability of scientific consensus depends on whether the incentives, which the self-interested members of scientific communities face, are aligned in the right way. In the most recent paper, I examine classical liberalism in Mexican economic thought (2016, Econ Journal Watch). In this work, I discuss the peaks of liberal thinking in Mexico identifying prominent Mexican liberal thinkers. I show how the liberal tradition in economics relates to mainstream neoliberal thinking and Mexican academia refuting a popular notion that economic neoliberalism is an offshoot of classical liberalism.

Read more about my publications, book reviews, and working papers.