IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Hiding Hand: A Rejoinder to Flyvbjerg on Hirschman


  • Room, Graham


In a recent article in World Development, Flyvbjerg confronted Hirschman’s principle of the “Hiding Hand” and “providential” or “beneficial ignorance” (World Development Vol 84, pp 176–189). This states that development projects typically incur major cost overruns and other implementation problems, which put in question the decision to launch them in the first place. Indeed, had these difficulties been known in advance, the projects might never have been tried. Flyvbjerg challenges the empirical validity of this principle and the sloppiness of Hirschman’s own argument. This rejoinder, while accepting that Hirschman presents his argument less than well, argues that Flyvbjerg is too quick to dismiss it, and that by taking account of Hirschman’s scholarship more broadly, much of his approach remains valuable.

Suggested Citation

  • Room, Graham, 2018. "The Hiding Hand: A Rejoinder to Flyvbjerg on Hirschman," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 366-368.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:366-368
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.10.015

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Flyvbjerg, Bent, 2016. "The Fallacy of Beneficial Ignorance: A Test of Hirschman’s Hiding Hand," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 176-189.
    2. Jeremy Adelman, 2013. "Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9935.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:366-368. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.