Foss and Klein Critique of Kirzner
| Peter Klein |
The Spring 2010 issue of the Journal of Private Enterprise contains a Kirzner symposium, including a paper by Nicolai and me, “Alertness, Action, and the Antecedents of Entrepreneurship.” We critique Kirzner’s concept of the “pure entrepreneur,” arguing that alertness is a historically contingent attribute of real-world business people — what Mises calls “promoters” — but not essential to the entrepreneurial function itself. We also suggest that Kirzner is inconsistent on the issue of antecedents, simultaneously holding that the entrepreneur-as-discoverer exists outside any particular institutional environment, and that certain public policies inhibit entrepreneurial discovery by blocking profit opportunities. Some of the material in the paper is familiar to readers of our other works, but our critique of the Kirznerian pure entrepreneur, in the context of ideal types, goes beyond previous arguments.
Oh, some of you may be more interested in the rest of the special issue, which leads with Dan Klein and Jason Briggeman’s broadside, “Israel Kirzner on Coordination and Discovery,” followed by a lengthy response from Kirzner himself. (Our paper is really an addendum.) Pete Boettke and Dan D’Amico, Steve Horwitz, Gene Callahan, Bob Murphy, and Martin Ricketts round out the Kirzner symposium.