Experimental versus Conceptual Entrepreneurs?

18 January 2010 at 11:53 pm 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

The latest paper in David Galenson’s artist series deals with architects, distinguishing between “experimental” and “conceptual” designers. The distinction calls to mind the different emphases of Knight’s and Kirzner’s concepts of the entrepreneur, the former centered on action and market feedback, the latter on the cognitive act of discovery. What do you think?

Innovators: Architects
David W. Galenson
NBER Working Paper No. 15661
Issued in January 2010

Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Frank Gehry were experimental architects: all worked visually, and arrived at their designs by discovering forms as they sketched. Their styles evolved gradually over long periods, and all three produced the buildings that are generally considered their greatest masterpieces after the age of 60. In contrast, Maya Lin is a conceptual architect: her designs originate in ideas, and they arrive fully formed. The work that dominates her career, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was designed as an assignment for a course she took during her senior year of college. The dominance of a single early work makes Lin’s career comparable to those of a number of precocious conceptual innovators in other arts, including the painter Paul Sérusier, the sculptor Meret Oppenheim, the novelist J.D. Salinger, and the poet Allen Ginsberg.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. REW  |  19 January 2010 at 12:52 am

    So, which of these encompasses effectuation?

  • 2. clay barham  |  19 January 2010 at 11:19 am

    Entrepreneurs are creative pebble droppers, the successful ones becoming nails sticking up on the boardwalk of society that bureaucrats want to hammer down so no one trips over them. It is described in Save Pebble Droppers & Prosperity on claysamerica.com. Ayn Rand experienced life in a “prison,” and she put an ideology to it and described its opposite, which is individual freedom and pebble-dropping. This is what Americans today are rejecting because they have never experienced what it is like living in a “prison,” although Obama is building the cage now under the guise of community interests being more important than self-interest. claysamerica.com.

  • 3. Arend  |  20 January 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Mr. Klein, I’m not sure how far the analogy goes as the Kirznerian entrepreneur only exists by the grace of solving a general equilibrium model problem, right?

    Or do you mean that Maya Lin’s work is created (as an idea) somehow without capital and without the risk of losses.

    I see the link between the experimentalists and the real entrepreneur versus the conceptual and the imagined entrepreneur. But somehow I think the conceptual architect is somehow a fiction as he/she must act in reality, under uncertainty, with the risk of losses – it seems unrealistic to me that this Maya Lin just thinks up and thinks up and then at the end of her mental “discovery” process it is always good and well. Oh well, you made me think, as the article made you think mr Klein, so I think you’re right in pointing out the similarities.

    (It’s one of my hobbies too to apply economics to other fields/real world examples, it’s a nice time consumer… :-P)

    Cheers

  • 4. Peter Klein  |  20 January 2010 at 11:50 pm

    I don’t think the analogy holds that literally. :-) I had in mind the idea that Lin’s design came into being, suddenly, in a flash of insight, while the other creators worked slowly, incrementally, experimentally. But I wouldn’t stake my reputation on that!

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