William Brian Reddaway (1913-2002)

Ajit Singh


This is an essay on the life and times of Professor William Brian Reddaway,1 a most distinguished and influential Cambridge economist. The following is not merely a tribute to Reddaway, but a means of learning from his outstanding contributions to teaching and research in economics. His distinct and practical philosophy towards teaching applied economics has long been a part of the Cambridge oral tradition and was particularly marked during the period of the late 1960s to the early 1990s. Reddaway would frequently say that his standard for the references he wrote for his students and colleagues was to always tell the truth. That same stringent criterion is used in this assessment of Reddaway’s own contributions.

Reddaway was a Cambridge economist of the highest pedigree. As an undergraduate at Cambridge, he was supervised by Gerald Shove, Richard

Ajit Singh, who authors this analysis of Reddaway’s work, regarded him first as a mentor who later became a good friend. The author would like to convey his deep gratitude to Shachi Amdekar for many helpful discussions on the subject. He is also grateful to Professor Martin Weale, Director of the National Institute for Economic Research, for his arguments which helped to change his mind on some of the important subjects discussed. However, he alone is responsible for any errors which remain.

1 Always referred to as Brian Reddaway within close circles. [1]

Kahn, and by John Maynard Keynes. The next section of the chapter describes Reddaway’s early academic career from the publication of his book on the Russian economy at the age of 22, to his appointment as the Director of the Department of Applied Economics (DAE) in Cambridge in the mid-1950s. Keynes had helped to establish the DAE as a department within the Faculty of Economics that encouraged and facilitated staff to undertake applied research. In his role, Reddaway was preceded by Richard Stone, who had been the first Director of the DAE. The six sections that follow will be concerned primarily with Reddaway’s enduring contributions and influence in research, teaching and examining, and economic analysis. An important analytical issue discussed in an early section of the chapter is the question of Reddaway’s influence and why he did not get as much attention from the economics profession as did, for instance, Stone, who won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1984. Later sections focus on Reddaway’s influence on teaching in Cambridge, and his major contributions to economic thinking, including corporate finance, attitudes to econometrics and mathematical statistics, and his work on the Indian economy.

  • [1] A. Singh Formerly Emeritus Professor of Economics, Faculty of Economics,University of Cambridge, UK © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017 795 R.A. Cord (ed.), The Palgrave Companion to Cambridge Economics, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-41233-1_35
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