Prof. Ehud Zuscovitch

Ehud Zuscovitch, Professor of Economics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and Directeur de Recherche in the CNRS, France, died of cancer Monday night, five months short of his fiftieth birthday. He is survived by his wife, Michal, daughters Shira, Naomi and Yael, his mother and brother.

Ehud’s ebullient personality comfortably accommodated more than one identity. Israeli-born, he passed a fondly remembered childhood in Tel Aviv, followed by army service, marriage to Michal and a short time spent on a kibbutz. After qualifying as a production technician and studying statistics for a year in Tel Aviv, Ehud and Michal moved to Strasbourg to attend Louis Pasteur University where he acquired his education in economics along with an appreciation of French culture and cuisine. There his exceptional talents were early on identified by teachers (P. Cohendet, J.-L. Gaffard, R. Dos Santos Ferreira) who later became colleagues and friends. His long association with BETA was the main formative influence on his economic career. It was there that he wrote his masterful doctorat d’יtat on Schumpeterian economics, which formed the cornerstone for much of his later teaching and research and anticipated the subsequent surge of interest in the subject. At BETA he also embarked on extensive empirical investigations on the economics of innovation, resulting, inter alia, in a book co-authored with P. Cohendet and M. Ledoux, on advanced materials, and an analysis of spillovers from the European space program, conducted with his doctoral student, G. Cohen. Ehud deeply enjoyed and was a master of the art of directing student theses, and provided just the right combination of guidance and independence that allowed students to develop their full potential while sharpening the focus of their work. It was in Strasbourg, too, that Shira was born, and exactly seven years later, Naomi; and it was there that Max Caramel assumed his place as their cat.

Ehud and Michal could not stay away from Israel indefinitely. Their roots were in Israel, and in 1988 he accepted a position in the economics department of Ben-Gurion University. Ehud played a central role in the development of the department from his very first days here, serving as Director of the Monaster Center for Economic Research, and as department Chair, while advancing to his recent promotion to full professor. The Zuscovitches made their new home in Omer, acquired Roxy, dog-companion to Max, and after a while Yael was born, at almost precisely the same seven-year interval that separated the births of her older sisters.

An academic entrepreneur of the first order, Ehud was constantly involved in developing new projects both in teaching and research. Some of his early work in Israel he undertook with M. Teubal and colleagues at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, with whom he edited two books on technological infrastructure policy, and collaborated on a number of articles. His last big projects were an evaluation of Israel’s R&D subsidy program, on which we worked together, and an international conference on learning, which he organized with particular flair. All the while, he retained his ties to France, advancing to the position of Directeur de Recherche in the CNRS, and participating in numerous academic initiatives on the economics of innovation. A leading member of the J. A. Schumpeter Society from its founding, he served on the editorial board of the Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

Here in Beer Sheva, Ehud will always be fondly remembered for his unique personal qualities. Never one to stand on ceremony, he always had a warm word and sympathetic ear for those in need of one or the other, and combined a strong will and sense of purpose with a kind heart. His untimely loss is deeply mourned, his presence among us sorely missed.

May his memory be blessed.