August 28, 2006
Research Agenda
Posted by Victor Fleischer

There was an interesting discussion a while back on Prawfs on whether it's a good idea to have a research agenda.  I think most folks would say it's a good idea to have one, but to remain flexible. 

To put a twist on the question, though, how should one choose which projects to pursue/prioritize? 

(1)  Enter an ongoing debate.  Do you find an ongoing debate and enter it with a new twist?  A new article on shareholder v. stakeholder theory, or income tax v. consumption tax, or legal transition rules, or a new way of thinking about the business judgment rule?

(2) Carve a new niche.  Or do you take a topic that's been largely overlooked, like the impact of the Investment Company Act on corporate investment policies, or the creation of syndicates in venture capital deals?   

I get the sense that conventional wisdom is to follow path number one.  I suspect it's more likely to lead to citations, downloads and conference invitations.  The downside is that it's really hard to say something that's both truly original and, at the same time, not wrong, about something like the business judgment rule.  Even worse, you might write one of those "Towards a New Theory of _______ Law" articles that nobody reads. 

The upside with path number two is that it's easier to be original and carve a niche.  The downside is that nobody may care.  (If a preferred return goes missing, but nobody is looking for it, does it matter?)

I'm a little all over the map myself, as I tend to get interested in a puzzle and follow it wherever it leads.  I'm not sure it's a wise policy for devising a research agenda, but there it is.  Are there other strategies?   

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"Teppo Vic Fleischer at the Conglomerate had a post last week on research agendas.  In short, he asks ..." [more] (Tracked on September 8, 2006 @ 0:46)
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