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Henry Manne and the Market Measure of Intellectual Influence, 50 Case Western Reserve L. Rev. 325 (1999)


There is an important difference between intellectual achievement and intellectual influence. There are many bright and intelligent people in the world. Most of them, however, generate no intellectual influence whatsoever. Our common indicia of academic rank—tenure, named chairs, tributes, and the like—are related to some base level of intellectual achievement and then, to longevity, but seldom to actual intellectual influence. Most faculty members granted tenure have demonstrated some level of achievement. Named chairs are distributed largely, though not entirely, according to years of service. Tributes presented formerly at retirement (since abolished) and now at death, measure more the professor's encouragement of his or her students than influence over those the professor never knew.

The most prominent modern metrics of achievement—such as the Nobel or Templeton Prizes—prominent because very substantial monetary awards attend them—seem chiefly awarded on the basis of originality. Originality is surely not an unfair measure of intellectual achievement. Indeed, there is substantial merit to it. Other papers in this Symposium have addressed the unique originality of Manne's ideas regarding the market for corporate control and the benefits and functions of insider trading, which are surely of Nobel caliber. Other participants in this Symposium are also responsible for ideas of great originality including, among others, Armen Alehian and Harold Demsetz, easily equal of Nobel merit.

Pure originality, however, is a peculiar standard for intellectual influence. Originality does not correspond to influence; most commonly, the relationship might be reversed. The most legitimately original ideas are often charitably described as zany. A person original in all respects would be hospitalized; the truly original would challenge current categories of mental conditions.

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