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Knowledge and Power in the Mechanical Firm: Planning for Profit in Austrian Perspective

Author

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  • Richard P. Adelstein

    () (Department of Economics, Wesleyan University)

Abstract

This essay draws on the transaction costs model of the firm and an Austrian perspective on the knowledge problem in centrally planned orders to propose an empirically useful Austrian theory of central planning. Afteran initial review of existing theories of the firm, part two develops insights from the calculation debate to sketch a theory of planning centered on the interrelated problems of purpose, information and control in both individual and central planning. Part three joins this theory to the basic framework of the transaction cost model to produce an Austrian theory of the private firm that addresses the relation between knowledge and power in planned orders, and illustrates its principal themes through a discussion of the historical development of American manufacturing in the fifty years prior to World War I.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard P. Adelstein, 2003. "Knowledge and Power in the Mechanical Firm: Planning for Profit in Austrian Perspective," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2005-015, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wes:weswpa:2005-015
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    File URL: http://repec.wesleyan.edu/pdf/radelstein/2005015_adelstein.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Foss, Nicolai Juul, 1993. "Theories of the Firm: Contractual and Competence Perspectives," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 127-144, May.
    2. Dulbecco, Philippe & Garrouste, Pierre, 1999. "Towards an Austrian Theory of the Firm," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 12(1), pages 43-64.
    3. Ulrich Witt, 1999. "Do Entrepreneurs Need Firms? A Contribution to a Missing Chapter in Austrian Economics," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 11(1), pages 99-109, January.
    4. Minkler, Alanson P, 1993. "The Problem with Dispersed Knowledge: Firms in Theory and Practice," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 569-587.
    5. Buttrick, John, 1952. "The Inside Contract System," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 205-221, June.
    6. Ioannides, Stavros, 1999. "Towards an Austrian Perspective on the Firm," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 11(1-2), pages 77-97.
    7. repec:mes:jeciss:v:30:y:1996:i:4:p:1212-1216 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
    9. Dow, Gregory K., 1987. "The function of authority in transaction cost economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 13-38, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    theories of the firm; production contracts; central planning systems; scientific management;

    JEL classification:

    • B5 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • P11 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform

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