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Michael Polanyi's Economics: A Strange Rapprochement


  • Agnès Festré

    University of Nice Sophia Antipolis)


In this paper we provide an analysis of Michael Polanyi's contribution to economics. We stress two major influences on Polanyi's economics: first, Hayek's opposition to central planning and his defence of self-organization as a superior mechanism for coordinating individual plans; second, Keynes' macroeconomic disequilibrium approach to the adjustment of savings and investment that called for government intervention. Polanyi blent these two influences and provided an idiosyncratic synthesis, which is an unfortunately neglected contribution in the field of economics. Moreover, we show that this synthesis is consistent with two important features of Polanyi's intellectual background: on the one hand, liberalism, which entailed two overlapping notions of freedom (traditional private freedom together with public liberty); on the other hand, his humanistic end-oriented type of evolutionism tainted with Catholic ideas. The paper highlights that these two features go hand in hand with Polanyi's view of tacit knowledge, which shapes his original and rich reflection about institutions.

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  • Agnès Festré, 2015. "Michael Polanyi's Economics: A Strange Rapprochement," GREDEG Working Papers 2015-36, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, revised Oct 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:gre:wpaper:2015-36

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    Michael Polanyi; Hayek; Keynes; spontaneous order; State intervention; liberalism; evolutionism;

    JEL classification:

    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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