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      Don Lamberton – master academic craftsman: providing the necessary contradiction

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            Don Lamberton's enthusiasm for the study of information economics has played an influential role in many academic careers. This paper searches for those attributes that distinguish Don Lamberton as an influential academic. Lamberton's influence was not solely grounded in the ideas that he promoted; it was also evident in the way he practiced his scholarly craft. The idea of the academic as a master craftsman is developed to explore this important yet often neglected aspect of Don Lamberton's working life. He was a master craftsman who invited and encouraged followers to join with him in a quest to appreciate and understand the role of information in the economy.


            Author and article information

            Pluto Journals
            1 December 2015
            : 33
            : 4 ( doiID: 10.1080/prometheus.33.issue-4 )
            : 465-474
            John Curtin Institute of Public Policy, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
            © 2015 Pluto Journals

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            Computer science,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,Law,History,Economics


            1. The historian Ann Moyal, AM, was for a time in the 1970s the director of the science policy research centre at Griffith University in Brisbane. She was an outspoken critic of narrow and chauvinistic thinking (Martin, 1986). Moyal was one of my teachers and contributed to the formation of Prometheus. Jarlath Ronayne was also at Griffith University during the first year of my undergraduate studies, and was influential in introducing me to the challenging questions posed by science policy.

            2. It was through Ann Moyal that I was introduced to Stuart Macdonald, who would later become a co-supervisor of my PhD. Macdonald was a colleague of Lamberton's at the University of Queensland and they had worked together on joint publications and Prometheus. Macdonald's ‘information perspective’ was influential in my approach to thinking. Important examples include Lamberton et al. (1984) and Macdonald (1998).

            3. Ron Johnston was the foundation professor of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Wollongong, NSW. The department later changed its name to the Department of Science and Technology Studies. Johnston was a co-supervisor of my PhD thesis, together with Macdonald, and had a particularly important influence on the eclectic approach adopted in my PhD thesis. In the mid-1980s, he had brought together a vibrant team of researchers and students. He was also a co-director of the Centre for Technology and Social Change (TASC). Work with Johnston as a student introduced me to the rhetorical dimensions of economics in science and technology policy (Joseph and Johnston, 1985), a theme that would later overlap with the interests of Lamberton.

            4. I recall Don Lamberton saying some years later that while I was never a student under his supervision, I had benefited from the contact with Stuart Macdonald, a PhD co-supervisor, which led to exposure to some of the ideas and research climate he [Lamberton] was trying to create at the University of Queensland in the 1980s.


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