Economist Greg Mankiw has an interesting question posted on his blog about what type of economist tends to get the Nobel Prize. He states that
What do you guys think? Should they be giving Nobel Prizes to the economists that come up with a few pathbreaking ideas (the home run hitters)? Or to economists that have larger quantities of consistent, solid research (the batting average leaders)? Which would be better for the field of economics? Which would be better for society as a whole in terms of advancing knowledge and having better economic policies?
There was an apparent consensus that the Nobel committee prefers rewarding people for a few path-breaking works, rather than judging an entire career of contributions. Is this optimal?
If the goal is to provide researchers with the right incentives, it may not be. It is as if a baseball team paid players based only on the number of home runs. We would have too many players swinging for the bleachers and too few base hits. In economics, maybe we get too many of the best people trying to create new paradigms and too few engaged in more routine, applied research.