I found it an exciting read, in part because I teach business ethics and philosophy of economics and I’m used to being immersed in the mainstream perspective, much of which I disagree with. So it was refreshing to find a kindred approach in Kling and Shulz’s economics that emphasizes:
* The foundational role of entrepreneurs, rather than seeing workers as performing pre-existing functions. (”Entrepreneurs are the heart of the economy, pumping innovation through the system.”)
* Consequently, starting one’s economic analysis with production, not welfarist distribution. (E.g., “although the supply of physical matter on earth is finite, the number of ways to re-arrange matter is infinite.”)
* Studying real human agents, not simplified abstractions that fit one’s models. (E.g., economists “should study economic history to give meat and sinews to the formal models that they’re studying, so that we do not become, God forbid, a branch of applied mathematics.”)
* Highlighting the importance of intangible resources and the knowledge economy, not simply the material resource economy. (E.g., “the average citizen in many advanced industrial nations has over $400,000 in intangible net worth.”)
* That plenty, not scarcity, is normal. (As the authors put it pithily: “To understand the plight of the workers a century ago, we’d read The Grapes of Wrath; to understand the plight of the workers today, we watch Supersize Me.”)
* That, consequently, win-win social relations are normal and the proper benchmark, not the usual expectation of zero-sum.
Kling and Schulz have put it together in a highly readable public intellectual book that draws upon and makes accessible the scholarly work of Douglass North, Robert Fogel, Joel Mokyr, Robert Solow, and Paul Romer.
The layout of the book is also intriguing and well done, alternating between explanatory essays on key economic themes and interviews with major economists: North, Fogel, Romer, Solow, Mokyr, along with William Easterly, Amar Bhide, William Lewis, William Baumol, and Edmund Phelps.
So get this book and learn about what the authors call Economics 2.0.
Posted 8 months, 1 week ago at 10:54 am. 1 comment
On March 28, Terry Noel, Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University, will visit Rockford College to give two talks: “The Virtuous Entrepreneur” and “Entrepreneurship and Management.” Dr. Noel is the author of Empty Nest Egg and a frequent speaker on entrepreneurial themes.
Contact Virginia Murr at CEE@Rockford.edu for more details.
From the introduction: “Forbes magazine named Magatte Wade one of the “20 Youngest Power Women of Africa.” Magatte was born in Senegal, educated in France, and started her entrepreneurial career in the U.S. Her first company, Adina World Beverages, based on indigenous Senegalese beverage recipes, became one of the most widely distributed U.S. brands started by an African entrepreneur. Her second company, Tiossan, sells skin care products based on indigenous Senegalese recipes online and at high-end boutiques. Magatte was also named a Young Global Leader by the 2011 World Economic Forum at Davos and is a frequent speaker on college campuses.”
I was interviewed by David Hutzelman on a variety of topics: entrepreneurial ethics, why business ethics should focus on the positive more than the negative, our cultural progress in developing institutions of trust and becoming comfortable with non-traditional social relationships. Here’s Part I of the interview:
Update: The full interview is now available. In the second half we discuss the exit and voice differences between political and market management, sports ethics, the parallels between sports and business, whether one should be optimistic or pessimistic about the future, Ayn Rand and (briefly) Austrian economics.
I interviewed Arielle John, an economist at Beloit College, Wisconsin, about the influence of culture on entrepreneurship. Professor John focuses her research on Trinidad, and she starts by noting striking differences in entrepreneurship rates among Trinidad’s ethnic groups. Her explanation invokes the distinction between Kirznerian and Schumpeterian entrepreneurship, ethnic social networks, and Trinidad’s post-colonial political culture. Here’s our 15-minute discussion after her lecture at Rockford College:
I will be giving a talk on “Entrepreneurs as Heroes” to the Instituto de Estudo Empresariais (Institute for the Study of Entrepreneurship) in Porto Alegre on January 7. Thanks to Roberto Rachewsky and Ana Elisa of the IEE for making this possible.
My theme will be that the entrepreneurial commitment to value creation is of profound moral significance. Many moral codes emphasize not doing bad things, or praise most those who give away or even take from others. But an entrepreneur is neither a taker nor a giver nor a non-doer — but rather an active doer who creates value and trades with others.
So we need an entrepreneurially-based moral code. In my talk I’ll also discuss the implications of entrepreneurism for business ethics, economics, public policy, and education.
From the interview: “In the second half of 2010, everything was doing great: we were beating records year after year and expanding the business. Profitability was fine and the outlook was fine. But we sat down and said, ‘Something will go wrong.’ From our experience, we knew there would be a black swan event. We asked ourselves: ‘What can go wrong that will hurt us a lot? And how can we avoid it or preempt it?’”
I met with the Lings in Porto Alegre, Brazil to discuss the beginnings of their worldwide business in non-woven fabrics and aluminum and the opportunities and challenges of being entrepreneurs in Brazil’s complicated business climate.
The next issue of Kaizen will feature an extended interview with Senegalese-American entrepreneur Magatte Wade.