Interview Insights: Dr Manisha Goel

Prof. Manisha Goel is Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Pomona College. Previously, Dr. Goel was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Ph.D. in Economics in June 2012 and a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Goel specializes in International Trade, Growth and Development, Cultural Economics, and Corporate Finance.

What are your primary research interests? What drew you to those areas?

Offshoring, i.e., the emergence of global production chains, and rapid technological change fueled by the spread of computers and the internet, have been two of the most remarkable developments in recent decades. Early in my career, I could see the distinct ways in which both phenomena were shaping labor markets in India and the United States. My research rigorously examines the nuanced effects of offshoring and technological change on labor markets in developed and developing countries.

How does culture affect economic outcomes? This question has intrigued me for longer than I can recall. This is a relatively new area of investigation in the field of economics, and that further excites me to pursue this research agenda. My view is that firms are not inanimate profit maximizing entities, as textbook economics suggests. Rather, they are formed by groups of individuals. Thus, it must be that firm outcomes result from individuals’ decisions that are shaped, in part, by their cultural backgrounds. Measuring cultural backgrounds using people’s caste identities, I analyze how caste influences corporate directors’, managers’, and entrepreneurs’ decisions for their firms.

Benjamin Franklin once said – Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn. How can we inspire students to want not only to gain knowledge for a career but to enjoy learning?

Economics is immediately relevant to our lives and the world we live in. I teach students seemingly abstract concepts by demonstrating to them how they apply in our environments. Instead of constantly lecturing to my students, I engage them in debates and policy relevant discussions, involve them in small research activities, and encourage them to dive deep into topics that pique their interest.

What expertise or skill set is most important to you in your research work?

Economic intuition, working with large datasets.

If you had the ability to go back in time, what advice would you give to your sixteen-year-old self?

Always have confidence in yourself, and count your blessings.

What is one superpower you would like to have?

The power to meet all nutritional needs of my child, without coaxing her to eat for countless hours each day!

If you had a time machine, which famous personality would you want to interact with?

Rabindranath Tagore

What is the best book you would recommend?

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

How would you describe your teaching style in one word?

Engaging

What other subjects do you like aside from Economics?

Painting, music, nature studies, and astronomy.

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