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János Kornai’s Contributions to Economic Analysis

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Abstract

The publication of János Kornai’s memoirs, By Force of Thought, provides an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves of Kornai’s great contributions to economic research. This paper discusses both his basic research strategy and some of his main research results. Kornai has usually dealt with great, system-oriented issues, and he has been more inspired by real-world observations than by scholarly work by others. The paper also emphasizes that Kornai’s two most celebrated characterizations of real world socialist economies – "shortage economies" and production units with "soft budget constraints" – are analytically closely connected. Kornai also, in his more recent works, regards the centralized political system during communism as the basic explanation for the centralized nature of the economic system in these countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Lindbeck, Assar, 2007. "János Kornai’s Contributions to Economic Analysis," Working Paper Series 724, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0724
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    Keywords

    Socialism; Soft Budget Constraints; Shortage Economy; Economic Centralization;

    JEL classification:

    • B24 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist; Scraffian
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • P20 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - General

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