Concise Encyclopedia Biography of Kirzner
By David Henderson
Steve Horwitz’s recent post, “Marginal Revolutionaries: Kirzner and the Modern Austrians,” August 19, 2020, references the bio of Israel Kirzner in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. I finished the bio a couple of months ago and it was posted last month. Steve’s post reminded me that I had forgotten to call attention to it.
In researching the bio, I read Kirzner’s 1973 book, Competition and Entrepreneurship much more carefully than I had in 1973 at the behest of one of my UCLA professors, Ben Klein. Ben was rare in that he came out of the University of Chicago but was his own man from the get-go. He found a lot of value in Kirzner’s book and recommended that his UCLA Ph.D. students buy it. I did so and enjoyed it, but my mind at age 69 is better at nuances than my mind at one third that age.
Here’s a highlight of the bio:
The main difference between Kirzner’s entrepreneur and Schumpeter’s is that Schumpeter’s entrepreneur upsets an existing equilibrium by introducing a new product or a new production technique, while for Kirzner, the entrepreneur “has an equilibrating influence.” Kirzner writes, “For me the important feature of entrepreneurship is not so much the ability to break away from routine as the ability to perceive new opportunities which others have not yet noticed.”
Read the whole thing.
Thanks to Richard Ebeling for reading the bio carefully and giving me suggestions, especially about finders-keepers.