© Cambridge University Press 2014. For most people, the most important economic activity is the one they are engaged in. For lawyers and accountants it is corporate consulting, for volunteers and activists it is the third sector, for nurses and doctors it is healthcare, for politicians and public officers it is the public sector. So, for economics scholars, the most important economic activity is their own trade: academic economics. This is precisely what this volume is about. The economics of economics Given the importance of academic economics for economists, it's not surprising that the topic has been studied and debated for quite some time now. Already in the 1970s, economists were employing the tools of economic analysis to investigate their own discipline (e.g. Siegfried 1971; Berg 1971; Hansen and Weisbrod 1972; Lovell 1973; Stigler and Friedland 1975, 1979). However, these early investigations, and those of the following two decades, are best regarded as case studies in the broader field of the economics of science (Stephan 1996; Mirowski and Sent 2002; Diamond 2008), whereas the full awareness of the existence of a distinct subject that could legitimately be called the economics of economics is a fairly recent business, dating from around the end of the 1990s (Colander 1989; Hands 1994; Maki 1999).