THE FIELD OF RESEARCH WHICH THE PRIZE WANTS TO PROMOTE
Maurice Allais has synthesized in several of his talks the main traits of the methodology he applied for his own part and which often led him to go off the beaten paths and to confront the dominating ideas of his time. This method is nothing else than the one which scientists make use of in scientific research in general, but which is sometimes underappreciated in specific avenues of research in the social sciences, while Maurice Allais has granted highest importance to it throughout his life. The jury will consequently prioritize scientific works entailing:
- A scrupulous and careful analysis of empirical facts in their different dimensions, both temporal (periods) as well as spatial (countries), without any preconceived view;
- A review of existing theories and of their ineffectiveness in explaining facts and observed behaviors;
- A construction of the theoretical model making clearly explicit its assumptions, their implications and their plausibility in view of observed facts;
- A comparison of the results derived from the model with past data, with particular attention to the validity of these results in time and space;
- When meaningful, a confrontation in a rigorous framework of methods and models derived from disciplines neighboring economics to the ones of economics as strictly defined.
Works bearing on the general domains of Maurice Allais’ writings will be particularly taken into consideration.
Professor Allais has made extensive use of mathematics in his researches but he never regarded it as a prominent trait of his works. Mathematics was to him a tool, and only a tool, allowing to express concepts under a general form and to derive all logical consequences. The Foundation will pursue in this direction and will reject any formalization, which would not rest on a firm empirical background.
Similarly, Maurice Allais has made extensive use of statistical tools but always declared as “wild econometrics” the automatic application of tests and processes, the only justifications of which were to be easily accessible for computerized treatment and to be of current use. Quite to the contrary, he kept very watchful of the conditions under which the different methods could be meaningfully used and never was fooled by representations, the economic justifications for which were either insufficiently grounded or opposite to common intuition. Clearly, the Foundation will bring an alert attention to this aspect of the submitted economic research.
On the other hand, Maurice Allais has always shown a great interest for all deeply pursued empirical or experimental researches which would aim at evidencing “real” individual or group behaviors when making their economic decisions, for this kind of work can foster progress of our understanding of the present world and constitute a basis of true advances, even if all theoretical consequences may still not be derived. As a matter of fact, he can be considered as being a precursor in these methodologies which tend nowadays to develop as, already in 1952, on the basis of sampled questionnaires, he was in a situation to show a clear-cut formal contradiction between real individual behavior under uncertainty and the presuppositions of currently admitted theories. The Foundation will be quite open to serious researches of this type, which could be submitted to its attention.
Within the field of research as defined here above, the Maurice Allais Prize will be awarded in consideration of the scientific value of the submitted research.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PRIZE
The Maurice Allais Prize will select the best research work in Economic Science meeting the general criteria enumerated above and every author of which will meet the eligibility conditions to be a candidate to the Prize.
The Prize competition will in principle be open without predetermined topic, but will possibly take the form of competition on a given theme, which would appear as of primary importance to understand and solve contemporary economic problems.
Every time the call for applications will be launched, the Foundation Committee will determine the form of the Prize on proposal of the Scientific Committee.