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Happy Birthday, Israel Kirzner

February 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Peter G. Klein


The eminent Austrian economist Israel M. Kirzner turns 83 today. Last week I was privileged to participate in an event honoring Kirzner with the Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Order Lifetime Achievement Award. Here is a video of Kirzner’s acceptance speech. The other videos should be available shortly.

I spoke of Kirzner’s vast influence on the management and entrepreneurship fields. Despite the valiant efforts of Kirzner and other Austrians, mainstream economics largely remains trapped in what Murray Rothbard called the Walrasian box. Management and entrepreneurship studies, on the other hand, are much more open to alternative ways of thinking about organizations and markets, including Austrian perspectives. Entrepreneurship research and teaching, for example, is dominated by the opportunity-discovery perspective, which builds largely — if not always carefully –  on Kirzner’s notion of entrepreneurial discovery. I have been somewhat critical of this literature, and the underlying notion of alertness, though I have built on Kirzner’s capital theory in my own work. In any case, I recognize the enormous influence of Kirzner’s writings on the entrepreneurship field. Please join me in congratulating Professor Kirzner on his many scholarly accomplishments.

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