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Method, Structure and Argument in Edith Penrose's Theory of Growth


  • Carol Connell


Edith Penrose's The Theory of the Growth of the Firm proposed a process theory of growth based on the pursuit and coordination of knowledge. From 1956 to 1973, Penrose began to focus on large international firms operating in developing countries. She found government to be a continuous input to the growth process. We argue here that Penrose was a heterodox economist, who followed the methodological style and structure of her Austrian mentor Fritz Machlup, embraced the neoclassical case study method of Marshall, and articulated a viewpoint on international growth that is much in line with Roy Harrod, Maurice Bye and Charles Kindleberger, who devoted considerable attention to why governments find it necessary to impose restraints on how such firms invest in their economies. The background and development of Penrose's work has implications for theory and policy, specifically for the Resource-based view which recognizes Penrose as its founder.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol Connell, 2009. "Method, Structure and Argument in Edith Penrose's Theory of Growth," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(4), pages 549-566.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:21:y:2009:i:4:p:549-566
    DOI: 10.1080/09538250903214842

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Machlup, Fritz, 1978. "Methodology of Economics and Other Social Sciences," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 1, number 9780124645509 edited by Shell, Karl.
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