Capitalism, Socialism, and the Cote d’Azur

25 July 2006 at 2:33 pm 4 comments

| Richard Langlois |

Thanks to Nicolai and Peter for inviting me to join in on the fun.

I trust that Nicolai and family are enjoying their vacation in Antibes, soaking up the sun and tpicture004_24jun06.jpghe local communist ideology. As it happens, I was in that part of the world about a month ago. On a free day while exploring Nice, I headed up to Nice Castle in search of some medieval ambience. Instead I found the annual local fete of the French Communist Party. The experience was surreal in that the event reminded me of nothing so much as the small-town agricultural fairs here in New England. The main difference seemed to be that the booths offering grilled sausages were staffed not by the Columbia Lions Club but by the Pablo Picasso Cell. (I must admit, however, that, even though the towns near me have names like Hebron and Lebanon, none of them would have had a pro-Palestinian anti-Israeli booth.) Adding to the surreal experience, the sound system kept pumping out Steely Dan’s “Cousin Dupree” over and over, apparently as a way of checking the settings.

I was in Nice — actually Sophia Antipolis, which is closer to Antibes — for the biennial meeting of the International Joseph A. Schumpeter Society. This was a rather more capitalistic experience, at least from my point of view. For one thing, the conference dinner, which featured the award of the Schumpeter Prize, took place at a former Rothschild Villa overlooking the sea. As a certain modicum of self promotion is apparently de rigeur in blogs, I suppose I should admit that one of the winners of the Schumpeter Prize was, well, me. The manuscript in question, called The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy, started out as the Graz Schumpeter Lectures in 2004. (In this respect I followed in the footsteps of Brian Loasby, whose 1996 Graz Lectures won the 2000 Schumpeter Prize.) The book (which Routledge is to publish) mixes intellectual history and economic history, tracing the (remarkably similar) Weberian accounts of Schumpeter and Chandler, who see the large managerial corporation as the apotheosis of “rational” economic organization, and confronting those accounts with the rather contrary evidence of the last quarter century — what I call the Vanishing Hand thesis. At least until I sign the rights over to Routledge, the manuscript is available here.

More substance next time.

Entry filed under: - Langlois -, Business/Economic History, Ephemera, Theory of the Firm. Tags: .

Do Economists Make Good Leaders? Theories of Religion

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John Hagel  |  11 August 2006 at 3:02 pm

    I just finished The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism and really enjoyed it. I posted a blog entry on it at
    http://edgeperspectives.typepad.com/edge_perspectives/2006/08/langlois_and_th.html

  • 2. Paul Cox  |  11 August 2006 at 11:02 pm

    Your feed is broken, I can’t subscribe.

  • 3. Peter Klein  |  11 August 2006 at 11:32 pm

    Sorry about that, it’s fixed now.

  • [...] In a recent blog posting, Langlois pointed to his new book The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy that will be coming out shortly – for a limited time, the full text of the book is available online here.  In this book, especially in Chapters 4 and 5, Langlois develops the theme of the historical transition from the Invisible Hand to the Visible Hand and now to the Vanishing Hand. More concretely, he sets out to try to explain why the large integrated firm described by Alfred Chandler emerged in the late nineteenth century but, more importantly, why the large integrated firm began to unravel in the late twentieth century. As he puts it, “vertical disintegration and specialization is perhaps the most significant organizational development of the 1990s. My goal is to explain this development . . . ” [...]

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