Monday, February 4, 2013

Israel Kirzner Award Ceremony

NYU Professor Emeritus Israel M. Kirzner will be honored on February 7, 2013 with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Order for his pioneering work on the theory of the entrepreneurial market process.

Prior to the Award Ceremony, the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the Mercatus Center will host a panel discussion of Kirzner's work on entrepreneurship and its relationship to economic science, organizations and management, and law and public policy.

Featured speakers will include Henry Manne, former Dean of George Mason University School of Law; Peter Klein, professor of economics at University of Missouri and author of Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment; and Peter Boettke, University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, and co-editor of The Collected Works of Israel M. Kirzner.

The event is co-sponsored by the Mercatus Center, Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Order, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and Liberty Fund. A reception will follow the panel discussion.

Although not all Austrians agree, I believe Kirzner's view of the role of alertness as being at the core of entrepreneurship is an important advance. If one accepts Kirzner's view, then it is difficult to hold the idea that poor are at a disadvantage to the wealthy, when it comes to entrepreneurial profit. A poor person can be as alert to opportunity as a wealthy person.


  1. Not to pick at an old scab, but...
    Didn't we get into kind of a tussle a while back regarding Dr. Kirzner's definition of an entrepreneur as opposed to Dr. Klein's? (and others).
    Now, I'm no economist (but I AM an entrepreneur).
    It seems to me that the terms "capitalist" and "entrepreneur" are sometimes used rather loosely and "overlap" in the Austrian literature.
    To me it seems critical to precisely define the terms.

    1. I see them as "roles" rather than definitions of an individual. A person can be at times an entrepreneur, a capitalist, or both at the same time.

    2. When a person is acting as an entrepreneur, he is seeing (or creating) an opportunity to earn a profit. He is the spark of the enterprise.

    3. A capitalist provides the means to realize the enterprise. He is the fuel.

    Now, the same person can act in BOTH roles, but the roles themselves are distinct.


  2. I don't really know much of anything about Kirzner versus Klein, but I'll grant that a poor person can be as alert to opportunity as a wealthy person. Yet they are poor and probably unknown and the other guy is wealthy and probably known. Surely there is a disadvantage there in acting with your property and relationships to reap the profits?

    1. Hi,
      Yeah, it's NICE if you've already got the bucks, but that is actually quite rare. The typical story (and it's a happy happy one) is some kid gets a great idea, pitches it to some old guy with $$$ and the rest is magic.
      That's actually COMMON. That's why our modern life is so great. Apple, Facebook, Google, etc etc....

      In the GOOD America, the poor kid CAN and very often DOES rise from rags to riches. If that WEREN'T true, we wouldn't have an illegal immigration "problem"!

      My beef with the Austrian literature is less lofty and kinda technical and maybe even petty. I just like clear definitions of roles. That's the computer geek coming out. In the "tussle", I referred to, the "Kleinians"?? talked right past my points and breezed on into other topics. Sometime when I've got LOTS of time on my hands, I'd like to review the literature and bring up SPECIFIC instances to discuss.