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Heterogeneous Capital, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Organization


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  • Nicolai Foss
  • Kirsten Foss
  • Peter G. Klein
  • Sandra K. Klein


One of Israel Kirzner’s less wellknown contributions is to the theory of capital. In this paper, we link the Austrian theory of capital and the theory of economic organization. Our starting point is the key Austrian notion of capital heterogeneity which we interpret in terms of attributes. Most capital assets are multi-attribute in nature, and many attributes may not be known to entrepreneurs. This fosters a need for experimenting with capital combinations. Because there are costs of measuring attributes, this process has implications for economic organization. Thus, we argue that novel implications for the understanding of ownership and the existence and boundaries of firms may be teased out of such a perspective.La théorie du capital représente une des contributions les moins connues d’Israel Kirzner. Dans cet article, nous établissons le lien entre la théorie autrichienne du capital et la théorie de l’organisation économique. Notre point de départ est la notion autrichienne fondamentale d’hétérogénéité du capital que nous interprétons en termes d’attributs. De par leur nature, la plupart des biens capitaux possèdent plusieurs attributs qui peuvent demeurer inconnus aux entrepreneurs. Ceci accroît la nécessité d’expérimenter des combinaisons capitalistiques. Etant donné les coûts qu’entraîne la mesure des attributs, ce processus a des implications quant à l’organisation économique. Ainsi, cette perspective permet de tirer de nouvelles implications pour notre compréhension de la propriété, de l’existence et de la taille des firmes.

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Paper provided by Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy, Copenhagen Business School in its series IVS/CBS Working Papers with number 2002-02.

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Handle: RePEc:ivs:iivswp:02-02

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  1. Peter Maskell, 1996. "Localised Low-tech Learning in the Furniture Industry," DRUID Working Papers 96-11, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  2. Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "Firms, Incomplete Contracts and Organizational Learning," DRUID Working Papers 96-2, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
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Cited by:
  1. Stefan W. Schmitz, 2002. "Uncertainty in the Austrian Theory of Capital," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0211001, EconWPA.
  2. Nicolai J. Foss & Peter G. Klein, 2004. "Entrepreneurshoip and the Economic Theory of the Firm Any Gains from Trade?," DRUID Working Papers 04-12, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.


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