AIRLEAP is a non-profit organization which seeks to promote integrity and responsible leadership in economics and related professions. It plans to do so in a positive manner, by fostering and disseminating useful and influential thought. The Association is open to a variety of possible mechanisms for carrying out this mission. For example, it will sponsor and organize sessions at economics conferences where research findings on the topic are presented.
The motivation behind AIRLEAP derives, first and foremost, from the recognized importance of economics. Among all the occupations and fields of study, economics is surely quite unique in that it underlies the control and management of society's resources. Yet, it is common knowledge that the most important aspects of economics, as a force in our lives, are quite remote from the thoughts and actions that typically govern the daily business of the economics profession. The routine work of economists—whether those economists are academics, government officials, or private sector analysts—is governed by immediate factors that directly affect their careers. Such factors would surely include, for instance, economists' ability to promote the goals of their own institutions, to support and help popularize their subfields (or circle of colleagues), to publish in accredited (and, wherever possible, prestigious) journals, to acquire research funding, and to move up the career ladder wherever they are employed.
It remains an open question, then, whether the behavior of economists in their profession is consistent with the greater goals of society and the most basic principles of integrity and responsible leadership. Are economists actually doing the kind of work that the public believes they should be doing? More precisely, do economists (or the "clubs" to which they belong) operate in a manner that is beneficial to society, or, in some cases, are they serving their own narrow, career-oriented interests, independent of greater societal goals and expectations? If there is, in fact, a disconnect between the work of economists and the public good, then how could the economics profession, as a whole, bring itself to correct this problem? AIRLEAP represents a joint effort by scholars and practitioners alike to address these concerns, and to promote, in general, integrity and responsible leadership within the profession.
AIRLEAP surely recognizes that integrity and responsible leadership are goals that must be pursued by individual economists and by the institutions that employ them. The Association's existence is not meant to be a condemnation of the profession, nor an external criticism, for the sake of criticism alone. However, AIRLEAP does recognize, and does not hide from, the need for improvements in integrity and responsible leadership. Its goal is to work toward improving the profession in this respect—to help the profession, not harm it. It is our belief that this can best be achieved through transparent efforts to identify, analyze, and offer solutions, so that the work of economists can become as useful and beneficial to society as possible.
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