Archive for September, 2010

The Modern University

| Peter Klein |

[I]f you were starting a top university today, what would it look like? You would start by gathering the very best minds from around the world, from every discipline. Since we’re living in an age of abundant, not scarce, information, you’d curate the lectures carefully, with a focus on the new and original, rather than offer a course on every possible topic. You’d create a sustainable economic model by focusing on technological rather than physical infrastructure, and by getting people of means to pay for a specialized experience. You’d also construct a robust network so people could access resources whenever and from wherever they like, and you’d give them the tools to collaborate beyond the lecture hall. Why not fulfill the university’s millennium-old mission by sharing ideas as freely and as widely as possible?

What would this modern university look like? It certainly wouldn’t resemble Harvard or Swarthmore or Michigan or Texas A&M. It would look like TED, profiled in this month’s Fast Company. Or Wikiversity or the Mises Academy or some nonprofit or for-profit alternative we haven’t heard of yet.

See also: “Are Universities Worth It?”

5 September 2010 at 5:31 pm 15 comments

Analyzing the WikiLeaks Data

| Peter Klein |

Once more on WikiLeaks: A team of University of Colorado researchers has already produced a geospatial analysis of the incident reports contained in the dataset. “By mapping the violence and examining its temporal dimensions, the authors explain its diffusion from traditional foci along the border between the two countries. While violence is still overwhelmingly concentrated in the Pashtun regions in both countries, recent policy shifts by the American and Pakistani governments in the conduct of the war are reflected in a sizeable increase in overall violence and its geographic spread to key cities. . . .” This is exactly the kind of analysis the military intelligence agencies are not doing, or at least not sharing.

Economists, geographers, entrepreneurship and innovation researchers, and other social scientists have a lot of expertise in network and cluster analysis. Why not turn them loose on these kinds of raw data? It’s also cheap: as Karen Kwiatkowski notes, “[t]he study was honestly, scientifically, and nimbly completed and published at no direct cost to the intelligence community. It was made possible by the decentralization, fluidity, and constant sharing and shifting of roles and responsibilities that comprise the Internet.”

3 September 2010 at 1:15 pm 6 comments

Law School for Economists

| Peter Klein |

Via Josh Wright, here’s an announcement for the Levy Fellowship at George Mason University School of Law. It’s a program to support PhD economists (and ABDs) pursuing law degrees. These days, a JD and a PhD are pretty much required for an academic post at a good law school, so check it out if you’re interested in teaching. After all, the world clearly needs more economists and more lawyers. . . .

3 September 2010 at 9:32 am 2 comments

Bruce Caldwell on The Road from Mont Pèlerin

| Peter Klein |

Don’t miss Bruce Caldwell’s review of Philip Mirowski and Dieter Plehwe, eds., The Road from Mont Pèlerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (Harvard, 2009). “Mont Pèlerin” refers, of course, to the Mont Pèlerin Society, the association of classical liberal academics and journalists founded by Hayek in 1947. Bruce finds the volume informative, despite its frequently disdainful tone toward its subjects. He also raises an important general point, one that I’ve wrestled with a lot since the financial crisis: does anybody listen to us?

The second question [raised  by the book] has to do with the potency of intellectuals to shape world events or, more narrowly, even economic and social policy. It is evident that members of the Mont Pèlerin Society, for all of their diversity, still preferred some form of liberalism . . . to other ways of organizing economic and political affairs.  But how important were they in the emerging global consensus that began in the 1980s in favor of trade liberalization and privatization?  Were not, for example, the dismal performance of Keynesian demand management policies in the United States, Britain, and elsewhere in the 1970s; the heavy-handed actions of the trade unions in Britain during the “Winter of Discontent”; the sclerotic performance of countries like India who had embraced a modified version of the planning model for their own; and, of course, the patent economic and political failures of the East Bloc, far more important in turning the tide, however briefly, towards globalization?  Was not George Stigler (himself a founding member of the Society) right in his comment about economists that “our influence appears to be powerful only when we support policies ripe for adoption” (Stigler 1987, p. 11)?

2 September 2010 at 11:31 am 9 comments


| Nicolai Foss |

ScienceCodex is the name of a great resource for serious procrastination, amusement, and — sometimes — useful inputs to research and teaching. Signing up for the feed will result in about 20 daily pieces of science news, and, at least for me, a couple of them are usually great fun and potentially useful for teaching. For example, those who teach OB or HRM may find this piece, “Over 50? You probably prefer negative stories about young people,” useful for classroom discussion. There are also potentially offensive stories (e.g., “You Kick Like a Girl“), so be forewarned ;-)

2 September 2010 at 9:09 am 2 comments

Chris Coyne’s Austrian Course

| Peter Klein |

Earlier I shared the reading list for my graduate course in the Austrian school of economics. Chris Coyne is teaching a similar class and has posted his syllabus here. Chris’s course is laid out differently than mine, with a different mix among types of readings, but I like what he’s done. As Pete Boettke and Joe Salerno have noted, the diversity and variety of course offerings and educational programs in Austrian economics is a sign of the health and vitality of the school.

1 September 2010 at 10:53 am 4 comments

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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).

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