Dr. Gregory Hayden began his career as professor of economics at the College of Business in 1967. After 50 years of service, his ability to help students and colleagues study the world through the use of his social fabric matrix approach has helped transform the way people approach complex world situations.
“Nothing transpires in the economy without the involvement of cultural values, social beliefs, social institutions, attitudes, technology and the ecological system. Nothing transpires without all those factors being involved, yet in economics we’ve left most of those out. What the social fabric matrix does is integrate those factors for analysis in economic systems,” said Hayden.
Hayden believes without seeing the full picture it is impossible to make proper policy decisions. He receives fulfillment from seeing it integrated in academic research, such as a recent grant funded project in Germany and a graduate student that consults with him from Hong Kong.
Recently, a former student of his attended classes at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC). What the student heard in lectures from military instructors reminded him of Hayden’s approach. Col. Craig Strong ’95 nominated his former professor to teach a capstone colloquium at the USAWC, knowing his social fabric matrix insights would make him uniquely qualified.
“Dr. Hayden’s work in institutional economics aligned with the Army Design Methodology (ADM),” said Strong. “ADM provides a methodology for applying critical thinking to understand, visualize and describe unfamiliar problems and approaches to solving them. I kept thinking ADM looks a lot like what I learned from Dr. Hayden.”
After participating in the classes at the USAWC, it confirmed again to Hayden the social fabric matrix system can be applied across various institutions.
“Whether the emphasis involves military institutions or economic institutions, you have to first understand your problem to know what is relevant. You cannot do anything in a social institution like the military without taking into account the entire ecological system,” said Hayden.
As he looks back at his time in Nebraska, Hayden feels privileged to have seen students like Strong achieve success. He also appreciates the opportunities the College of Business provided by emphasizing service work early in his career. Among other work, Hayden spent time in the Nebraska Governor’s office working on public policy issues.
“I received the opportunity to be highly involved in public service. It helped me develop the social fabric matrix because I was out there seeing how the world works. That opportunity to serve became critical to the development of my research, and it’s fulfilling to see it being used around the globe now by other scholars,” he said.