Archive for December, 2009

Finally, a Humanities Book Worth Reading

| Peter Klein |

It’s The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies, edited by Edward P. Comentale and Aaron Jaffe (Indiana University Press, 2009). Says one dust-jacket endorsement: “There is something here for the slacker as well as the scholar, for all Lebowskis, big and small.” HT to the NYT, which titles its review “Dissertations on His Dudeness.” Look for Cornel West to offer a Princeton course soon on Lebowski Studies.

31 December 2009 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

Call for a Slow-Word Movement

| Peter Klein |

If you like slow food, maybe you’ll like slow words. Forbes columnist Trevor Butterworth (via John Hagel) calls for journalists, educators, parents, and executives to spend time in the information superhighway’s slow lane:

the crisis of journalism is, at this point, sufficiently real to be seen as part of a wider conceptual crisis brought about by new-media technology: a crisis that is located, primarily, in the cognitive effects of acceleration and its cultural backwash. In short, a relentless, endless free diet of fast media is bad for your brain. Generation Google — those who have never known a world without the Internet — it turns out, not only cannot use Google effectively, they don’t even know enough about how to search for information to know they can’t use Google effectively. The idea that the kids are whizzes at multimedia tasking is a platitude confected by middle-aged techno gurus to peddle their expertise as explainers of generational difference. In fact, relentless multitasking erodes executive function. And while the brain may not be overloaded by 34 gigabytes of brute information a day, it appears that too many of these mental quanta are the equivalent of empty calories. PlayStation and texting need to be balanced out by reading novels, handwriting (for old-fashioned digital dexterity) and playing with other live people if you want your child to develop to be an effective, skill-acquiring, empathetic adult.

The tone is a bit curmudgeonly, even for me, and smells like yet another apologia for the Old Media. Some good points, nonetheless. And I’m sure there’s material for a good multitask principal-agent paper in there somewhere.

Here’s wishing you a Curmudgeonly New Year!

31 December 2009 at 11:41 am 1 comment

Happy Keynesian New Year

| Craig Pirrong |

Keynes and Hayek were major adversaries in the 1930s, but it is interesting to note that they shared some important ideas in common, but drew diametrically opposed conclusions from them.

In particular, Hayek, and the Austrians generally, believed in radical uncertainty, in the sense that individual economic agents had too little information about the world to assess probabilities of states of the world, or even to identify the possible states. Keynes similarly believed in the inability of individuals to evaluate investments in a rigorous quantitative way. Keynes concluded that this made investors subject to radical shifts in sentiment and “animal spirits” that could cause an autonomous collapse in investment. (more…)

29 December 2009 at 2:22 pm 6 comments

Can We Tackle the Big Problems?

| Peter Klein |

Russ Coff, Emory University strategy professor extraordinaire and former O&M guest blogger, sends this special report:

I’m reporting live (but jet lagged) from the Israel Strategy Conference that Peter had mentioned earlier. A theme among the keynote speakers (particularly Jay Barney and Anita McGahan) has been how we can apply our theories to tackle more meaningful problems.

Jay delivered a tearful account of his personal efforts to apply resource based theory to help a small village in Bolivia. (more…)

29 December 2009 at 9:51 am 3 comments

Happy Birthday, Ronald!

| Peter Klein |

Happy Birthday to Ronald Coase, 99 years young today. Live long and prosper!

Favorite under-appreciated Coase essay of the day: “Business Organization and the Accountant.”

Update: Oops, Mike Sykuta tells me that the birthday is actually tomorrow, 29 December. (I blame the Coase Institute, which sent out a Facebook message on 28 December saying “Congratulations to Ronald Coase on his 99th birthday today, December 29.” I didn’t catch the goof.)

Update II: A friend asks why new institutional economists live so long. I suggested a keen appreciation of comparative institutional analysis, reflected in a version of the old adage, “Getting old isn’t so bad, once you consider the feasible alternative.”

28 December 2009 at 2:36 pm Leave a comment

Entrepreneurship and Action

| Peter Klein |

A few entrepreneurship scholars see action under uncertainty, rather than perception of opportunity, as the essence of the entrepreneurial function. Really, really eminent scholars. Anyway, here’s a little etymological tidbit along these lines from Jesús Huerta de Soto’s book The Austrian School: Market Order and Entrepreneurial Creativity:

Indeed both the Spanish word empresa and the French and English word entrepreneur derive etymologically from the Latin verb in prehendo-endi-ensum, which means “to discover, to see, to perceive, to realize, to capture”; and the Latin term in prehensa clearly implies action and means “to take, to seize.” In short, empresa is synonymous with action. In France, the word entrepreneur has long conveyed this idea — since the High Middle Ages, in fact when it was designated to those in charge of performing important and generally war related deeds or to those entrusted with executing the large cathedral building projects.

Thanks to Dan D’Amico for calling my attention to this passage.

PS: On the more general claim that entrepreneurship should be treated as an abstract function, rather than an employment category, I call to the stand Edith Penrose, who writes in Theory of the Growth of the Firm (chapter 3, footnote 1):

The term “entrepreneur” throughout this study is used in a functional sense to refer to individuals or groups within the firm providing entrepreneurial services, whatever their position or occupational classification may be.

You go, girl!

27 December 2009 at 11:45 am 4 comments

We Feel Your Pain

| Peter Klein |

From all of us here at O&M, we hope you have the same problem as the guy below (click to enlarge), and we wish you a happy, healthy, and productive 2010!

24 December 2009 at 9:23 am 3 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).