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.
In writing this book, I decided in general not to consult with Professor Hayek. If the reinterpretation was to be authentic and worthwhile, it would necessarily involve my piecing together his ideas as they were presented and available. I wanted to assess Hayek’s contributions, not what Hayek himself
recalled contributing, or
intended to contribute. I was thus especially pleased that when he gave me his impressions of the penultimate draft in the form of a foreword, he found my interpretation satisfactory.
There are many people who deserve thanks for the assistance that they have rendered. If it is possible to make such a judgement, my greatest intellectual debt is to Axel Leijonhufvud. This debt is far greater than the usual one to the chairman of one’s dissertation committee. During the period of time I was at U.C.L.A., he was always available to give advice on a wide range of problems. He seemed to have an infinite supply of time, and a way of avoiding the inessentials and moving right to the heart of a problem. Much of what is worthwhile in this book is due to what I learned in and out of the classroom from him, and to his stern criticisms of earlier drafts of my Ph.D. dissertation. He is to be especially absolved from responsibility for any remaining errors, as I am quite aware of the areas where we disagree.
Professor Robert Clower was also willing to give of his time whenever asked for assistance. Since Professor Clower does not have the dubious distinction of ever having been officially associated with this project, he is certainly protected from all blame. But my appreciation for his assistance, rendered at critical junctures, cannot be adequately expressed. I would also like to thank the other members of my dissertation committee, Professors Sam Peltzman and Thomas Sowell, for the help they rendered along the way.
My experience at U.C.L.A. provided great intellectual stimulation. The constellation of great minds was truly awe inspiring. One had the sense of economics being once again made a lively and interesting field in which to work. This sense of excitement was infectious, and the graduate students greatly benefited. It would be impossible to name all of the faculty and staff who, in discussions and otherwise, provided help and stimulation.
The economics department at Iowa State University proved to be a very congenial place in which to carry forth the preparation of this book from my dissertation. Dudley Luckett has helped in ways he undoubtedly does not realize, by his willingness to discuss subjects whose connection with this book he could not then have known. I early learned that the
cognoscenti in the department attended Charles Meyer’s informal luncheon seminars in the Cardinal Room. I have benefited immensely from the many discussions he and I have had over lunch and at other times.
Professor Israel Kirzner gave encouragement and aid for this project at a time when they were both needed. Professor Ludwig M. Lachmann was also kind enough to read and comment on my dissertation. I very much appreciate the help that both of them have rendered.
The Liberty Fund provided me with a fellowship for the summer of 1975, for which I am profoundly grateful. This fellowship not only enabled me to attend to my typescript full time, but put me in the company of other scholars interested in the same general area. As part of the fellowship, I spent the summer at the Institute for Humane Studies in Menlo Park, California. I benefited from the helpful comments of the other fellows, including Roger Garrison, Richard Ebeling, and Gary and Eugenie Short. Miss Sudha R. Shenoy, in particular, deserves thanks for having read and edited the dissertation in its entirety. George Pearson and Kenneth S. Templeton, Jr., of the Institute for Humane Studies arranged for this program. Neil McLeod of the Liberty Fund saw to the funding. And the staff of the Institute, particularly Ellen Burton and Martha Heitkamp, saw to it that all went smoothly. I wish to thank all of them.
The Liberty Fund’s summer program enabled me to meet Professor Hayek for the first time, as he was a Senior Fellow in
the program. It was particularly stimulating to meet him at that time, as he was in the midst of writing his three volume magnum opus,
Law, Legislation and Liberty.
Professor Murray N. Rothbard is largely responsible for interesting me in the contributions of the Austrian school. One might say that he predisposed me to write this work. He himself has contributed to the tradition, and his works were often valuable sources for further references. He also read and commented on my dissertation, for which I am especially grateful.
As the deadline for delivery of the typescript approached, the third floor typing staff in the economics department at Iowa State University performed heroic feats, beyond the call of duty. Mrs. Betty Ingham organized a veritable typing brigade. Denise Collins, Diana Grimm, Mrs. John Kooistra, and she typed furiously and efficiently, even at night and on weekends. There is no way that I can express my appreciation for what they did. And I am most grateful to the department for providing such fine support.
My wife, Lyla, was more than the proverbial constant source of support. She took an active part in editing and rewriting at various stages. And she did this despite the fact that she at all times had her own work to do. I gratefully dedicate this book to her.
Santa Barbara, California