When Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament in 1895, he created a legacy to honor “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” More than 100 years later, the Nobel Prizes have also inspired another proud tradition: whining. Every year, the same complaints arise. The right people didn’t get the prizes. The categories don’t make sense. Awards should be given posthumously. Lost amid the bickering and bruised egos is a bigger question: Are the Nobel Prizes—and similar awards—good or bad for science?
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Scott Stern is the School of Management distinguished professor and chair of the Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. Stern works widely with both companies and governments in understanding the drivers and consequences of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in competitiveness and regional economic performance.
Bruce A. Weinberg
Bruce A. Weinberg is a professor of economics at the Ohio State University, visiting scholar at Princeton University, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn. His work on science and innovation studies how creativity varies over the life cycle and how an individual’s own creativity is affected by the presence of other important innovators.
Meghna is a contributor to Science. She focuses on science policy issues.