Lachmann on Capital Heterogeneity

15 August 2010 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

| Peter Klein |

We have written often on the role of capital heterogeneity in an entrepreneurial theory of the firm. “We are living in a world of unexpected change,” wrote Ludwig Lachmann in 1956; “hence capital combinations . . . will be ever changing, will be dissolved and reformed. In this activity, we find the real function of the entrepreneur.” Of course, the concept of heterogeneous resources is fundamental to transaction cost and resource-based views of the firm. It is mostly ignored by mainstream economists, however — macroeconomists in particular, as evidenced by the Old School Keynesianism that drives bailout and stimulus policy.

Here is Richard Ebeling with a fine overview of Lachmann’s capital theory, in contrast to Keynes’s superficial treatment:

A crucial element in Lachmann’s view of capital . . . is that the relationships between and among capital goods are those of substitutes and complements.

The Keynesian fallacy, Lachmann implies, is that Keynes tended to view and consider the capital stock has a more or less homogeneous aggregate under which all capital goods might be considered as interchangeable substitutes. Thus, any increase in capital investment lowers the “marginal efficiency of capital” (Keynes’ term) of every other unit of capital, since every unit of capital is a substitute with all other capital. . . .

Thus, if monetary manipulation brings about an increase in money and credit, and a resulting distortion of the rates of interest, and if this generates a tendency for misguided capital and related investments, and as a consequences capital goods and various types of labor are drawn into particular sectors of the economy and “stages” of the time structure of production, then . . .

You know the rest. And the coda too:

Government interventions and “stimulus” gimmicks merely serve to delay the adjustments and further distort an already distorted market. It is an attempt to maintain capital and labor complementary production and investment structures that are unsustainable in many of the patterns generated during the boom phase of the business cycle.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Austrian Economics, Bailout / Financial Crisis, History of Economic and Management Thought, Management Theory, Strategic Management, Theory of the Firm.

Most Courageous Person in Academia? O&M in Lund

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Authors

Nicolai J. Foss | home | posts
Peter G. Klein | home | posts
Richard Langlois | home | posts
Lasse B. Lien | home | posts

Guests

Former Guests | posts

Networking

Recent Posts

Categories

Feeds

Our Recent Books

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).