Kirznerian Entrepreneurship and the Economics of Science
Peter J. Boettke
George Mason University - Department of Economics
Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 119-130, March 2002
Does the production of scientific knowledge differ in certain important respects from the kinds of activity economics typicaly studies? If it does, the kinds of coordinating mechanisms at work in science that would allow us to see such activities as a Hayekian "order" might well differ from the order we more readily associate with catallactic activity, defined here to refer to "market phenomena". As Professor Kirzner and Mises before him have so adeptly shown, entrepreneurial activity is central to understanding how markets work. We advance the claim that because "scientific activity," or at least salient aspects of it, differs from catallactic activity, the coordinating mechanisms found in science do not necessarily involve catallactic entrepreneurship. As such, more than Kirznerian entrepreneurship must be used to describe the coordinating mechanisms in science. While this suggests, as Kirzner has noted, caution in applying insights gained from economic theory to non-market domains, we also note that actual ongoing changes in institutional arrangements and structures are likely to make scientific activity increasingly more market-like, therefore permitting a fuller catallactic treatment of science than the currently dominant institutional forms allow. Scientific activity may be largely non-market activity, but it does not have to be.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
JEL Classification: B20, B53
Date posted: January 18, 2010