Archive for October, 2006

Pomo Periscope IV: A Rothbard Classic

| Nicolai Foss |

Pomo had no greater enemy than the late Murray Rothbard. Here is a hilarious comment on “the hermeneutical invasion of philosophy and economics,” which was originally published in 1989 in the Review of Austrian Economics (and published a bit later in Danish translation by yours truly in the rather short-lived Danish Austrian economics journal, Praxeologica). (more…)

30 October 2006 at 2:39 am 1 comment

Pomo Periscope III: From Sex and the City to Spengler

| Nicolai Foss |

Although it lies somewhat outside the scope of the Pomo Periscope (cf. this and this), Steven LaTulippe has an interesting commentary, “Statism, Post-Modernism, and the Death of the Western World,” at that simultaneously blasts post-modernism and defends cultural conservatism, while reaching from “Sex and the City” (here is another great blasting of that show) to Oswald Spengler.  It is a bit like “Scruton light.” (more…)

30 October 2006 at 2:25 am Leave a comment

Bleg: Parsons, Popper, and the Austrians

| Peter Klein |

From Rafe Champion:

I am working up a paper on the way Talcott Parsons rediscovered the Austrian wheel of methodological individualism and the “action frame of reference” during the 1930s when he wrote “The Structure of Social Action” (1937). Karl Popper also picked up some elements of the Austrian approach (not surprisingly) including methodological individualism and “situational analysis” which is essentially the action frame of reference including subjectivism.

Can people help out with any cross references and citations between those three lines of work? The volume of literature in each of the three is immense, and in my reading of the principals there is next to no cross referencing.

I am not aware that Parsons ever cited Mises or Popper and their associates. Popper in personal communication described Parsons as a contributor to verbalism in the social sciences but did not cite him in print. Jarvie (of the Popper school) referred briefly to Parsons in the course of a protracted debate by sociologists and anthropologists over MI involving associates of Popper (mostly Watkins) and others. In that context Hayek was cited as an exponent of MI but there was no reference to Mises or the Austrian tradition generally. This appears to indicate a high degree of fragmentation in the field or at least a lack of collegiate spirit in recognizing the contribution of scholars in other schools of thought who are fellow travelers in some respects.

Any Parsons scholars out there who can help him out? If so, please write Rafe or, even better, post a comment below.

29 October 2006 at 8:44 am 2 comments

I Love France

| Peter Klein |

Here is a confession. I love France. Not just the food or the countryside or the language, but also the culture, the history, the way of life. Perhaps that makes me a cheese-eating surrender monkey. I don’t know. But I do know that I like France. And I don’t even mind the French all that much.

Seriously, I’m fortunate to count such diverse thinkers as Pierre Garrouste, Jean-Michel Glachant, Guido Hülsmann, Nathalie Janson, Armelle Mazé, Claude Ménard, Philippe Nataf, Pascal Salin, Stéphane Saussier, and Anne Yvrande-Billon as friends, colleagues, and research collaborators.

Despite my Francophilia — or perhaps because of it — I have enjoyed reading Stephen Clarke’s A Year in the Merde, a send-up of French society and culture written by a young British expat. It’s funny (though a bit raunchy), and resonates well with those of us who admire, but fail to comprehend, so much of what it means to be French. A good read.

28 October 2006 at 11:16 am 3 comments

What’s So Great About Tacit Knowledge? — Cont’d

| Nicolai Foss |

Peter asks, “what’s so great about tacit knowledge?”, pointing out that there is a tendency in the KM literature (and, I may add, parts of the strategic management literature as well) to exalt tacit above explicit knowledge. He correctly points out that tacit knowledge may well be errorneous, to which it may be added that errorneous tacit knowledge is usually more of a problem than errorneous explicit knowledge, since the latter is presumably easier to correct. In a comment on Peter’s post, JC Spender points out that “for the most part the discussion of tacit knowledge is sheer obscurantism.”

I agree with both Peter and JC. But I may want to be even more radical, and ask “What’s — analytically speaking — so great about tacit knowledge?” (more…)

27 October 2006 at 10:08 am 5 comments

Motivation Workshop at CBS

| Nicolai Foss |

Today the unit that I direct at Copenhagen Business School, The Center for Strategic Management and Globalization, arranged a well-attended “Workshop on the Motivational Foundations of Knowledge Sharing.” The workshop was part of a major research project that we run at the Center, the FOKS project (i.e., Foundations of Knowledge Sharing: Behaviors and Governance). It was organized by my very able PhD student, Mia Reinholt.

We were lucky to have two of the most profound thinkers on motivation in psychology and economics giving keynote speeches, namely Edward Deci and Bruno Frey. (more…)

27 October 2006 at 9:47 am 1 comment

What’s So Great About Tacit Knowledge?

| Peter Klein |

The knowledge management and capabilities literatures are in love — in love with tacit knowledge. Managing tacit knowledge, leveraging tacit knowledge, growing tacit knowledge — these are seen as the keys to achieving sustained competitive advantage. Economists, too, have gotten into the act, asking how incentive plans and the allocation of decision rights affects employees’ use of dispersed, specific knowledge. And, of course, F. A. Hayek’s analysis of socialism is built on the notion that centralized systems without markets and prices cannot make effective use of tacit knowledge.

But is tacit knowledge always “better” — more correct — than explicit knowledge? The knowledge management and capabilities literatures seem to take this for granted. And yet, a growing body of evidence on behavioral anomalies suggests that cognitive biases and heuristics can render individual judgments unreliable.

This came to my mind when reading Alex Tabarrok’s recent comments on the surprisingly primitive practice of medicine (here and here). (more…)

26 October 2006 at 6:48 pm 5 comments

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Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Peter G. Klein and Micheal E. Sykuta, eds., The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics (Edward Elgar, 2010).
Peter G. Klein, The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute, 2010).
Richard N. Langlois, The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy (Routledge, 2007).
Nicolai J. Foss, Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Raghu Garud, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Richard N. Langlois, eds., Managing in the Modular Age: Architectures, Networks and Organizations (Blackwell, 2003).
Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, eds., Entrepreneurship and the Firm: Austrian Perspectives on Economic Organization (Elgar, 2002).
Nicolai J. Foss and Volker Mahnke, eds., Competence, Governance, and Entrepreneurship: Advances in Economic Strategy Research (Oxford, 2000).
Nicolai J. Foss and Paul L. Robertson, eds., Resources, Technology, and Strategy: Explorations in the Resource-based Perspective (Routledge, 2000).