On the Efficiency of AC/DC

Many an undesirable trait have been at times associated with economists ('dismal scientists' and all that), but surely no-one can accuse us of lacking a sense of humour. This is from Robert Oxoby's short paper On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson (free access), via MR:

The band AC/DC is considered one of the seminal hard rock bands, often compared to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath in influencing many subsequent hard rock and heavy metal bands. The band was formed in 1973 by Angus and Malcolm Young who took the band’s moniker from the back of their sister’s sewing machine. In its 35 year history, the band has sold more than 150 million albums.

Among musicologists, researchers of popular culture, and rock and roll lovers of all ages there exists a common debate. That is, with respect to the rock band AC/DC, who is the better vocalist: Bon Scott or Brian Johnson?

[...] using tools from the field of experimental economics, we consider which vocalist results in individuals arriving at more efficient outcomes in a simple bargaining game. Our results suggest that having participants listen to songs by AC/DC in which Brian Johnson served as vocalist results in participants realizing more efficient outcomes. Thus, in terms of a singer’s ability to implement efficient behavioral outcomes among listeners, our results suggest that Brian Johnson was a better vocalist than Bon Scott.

Our analysis has direct implications for policy and organizational design: when policymakers or employers are engaging in negotiations (or setting up environments in which other parties will negotiate) and are interested in playing the music of AC/DC, they should choose from the band’s Brian Johnson era discography.

Applause! Parody is a staple of political commentary; perhaps it can be put to good use in the field of academic economics as well.

by datacharmer | Monday, August 20, 2007
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