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November 01, 2007


Barkley Rosser

Your use of tenses makes it sound as if he is not with us. Did he pass on recently while I was not following the obituaries?


Indeed, he is one of the greatest thinkers in development, and I think it is a shame that rarely does anyone mention his readings anymore, and rarely are his books taught.

Can you please provide us with more information about the lecture in his honor? Where and when will it be? What is the topic?


I completely agree with you on professor Hirschman.

I really like most of his works.

I wonder if you kindly let us know how one can access to your lecture in honor of professor Hirschman.

A question: why has the Nobel committee never given Hirschman Nobel Prize in economics? What about it?


i like him. i read his books and to me exit,voice and loyalty is very interesting. if you can publish your lecture about hirschman in your blog.

Matías Vernengo

He was clearly against balanced strategies, after all chapter 4 of "The Strategy of Economic Development" is about his unbalanced approach. However, I don't think that he was against the Big Push, and in fact his backward and forward linkages arguably depend on it. You make Hirschman sound like Easterly, in favor or searchers and against planning. He was very much part of the development community (the planners).


To the wonderful works you mention, I'd add Shifting Involvements: Private Interest and Public Action, The Rhetoric of Reaction: Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy, and also some of his collections of essays (Hirschman is a master essayist), notably Essays in Trespassing and Rival Views of Market Society. However, in my view one of his greatest works remains Development Projects Observed, a title that is more than a little misleading inasmuch as it deals with much more than development and much more than projects. His ruminations on "trait-making" v. "trait-taking", on "disciplines" and "latitudes", on "the principle of the hiding hand", and on the "pseudo-comprehensive technique" are priceless. At bottom, this is a work about why the variety of agents involved in public policy behave the way they do. It is also the kind of work that provides eloquent testimony to your observation that Hirschman has been "a source of frustration for his contemporaries"--and, I'd venture to say, why he has been viewed as too suspect methodologically to warrant a Nobel Prize. Can you imagine the AER today publishing anything like "Against Parsimony: Three Easy Ways of Complicating Some Categories of Economic Discourse" (AER, May 1984)?


This is one of my favorite Krugman essays, discussing Hirschman's approach:



I am curious. Why haven't we had a Hirschman in a long while? Is it that a Harvard today can't tolerate a student who can't tolerate "Greek" letters? My answer would be yes. Mathematisation of economics might be keeping original thinkers (exceptions like Dani are rare!) off the discipline.

Barkley Rosser

Well, nobody answered my question, so I went and looked. Apparently Hirschman is alive at 92. Hopefully he will be there to hear Dani Rodrik's lecture and in good enough shape to appreciate it.

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