Economics as a Coordination Problem: The Contributions of Friedrich A. Hayek
By Gerald P. O'Driscoll
Axel Leijonhufvud first suggested to me that reexamining Hayek’s contributions might be worthwhile. From the start, I sensed that Hayek’s theories were misunderstood in important respects. One major reason was the tidal wave of the Keynesian revolution. Contributing to the eager acceptance of Keynes’s message was a desperate desire for a cure for the economic ills of the Great Depression…. [From the Introduction]
First Pub. Date
Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, Inc.
Foreword by Friedrich A. Hayek.
The text of this edition is copyright © 1977, The Institute for Humane Studies.
To give a coherent account of the whole of the theoretical work of an economist who has not attempted to do so himself is sometimes a useful task. But the proof of its worthwhileness must be that the attempt at systematization leads beyond the point where the author discussed left off. On this standard Professor O’Driscoll, if the task he has undertaken was worth doing at all, has done it very well indeed.
It is a curious fact that a student of complex phenomena may long himself remain unaware of how his views of different problems hang together and perhaps never fully succeed in clearly stating the guiding ideas which led him in the treatment of particulars. I must confess that I was occasionally myself surprised when I found in Professor O’Driscoll’s account side by side statements I made at the interval of many years and on quite different problems, which still implied the same general approach. That it seems in principle possible to recast a great part of economic theory in terms of the approach which I had found useful in dealing with such different problems as those of industrial fluctuations and the running of a socialist economy was the more gratifying to me as what I had done had often seemed to me more to point out barriers to further advance on the path chosen by others than to supply new ideas which opened the path to further development. Professor O’Driscoll has almost persuaded me that I ought to have continued with the work I had been doing in the 1930s and 1940s rather than let myself be drawn away to other problems which I felt to be more important. I cannot now really regret it, however, when I see that not only
he but also a few others are pushing beyond the point where my own impetus had flagged; in fact their efforts are doing more to make me think again about those problems than I would otherwise have done.