The Intellectual Legacy of Jaroslav Vanek: How the Twain Met

31 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2020

See all articles by John Bonin

John Bonin

Wesleyan University - Economics Department

Date Written: May 12, 2020


This essay is a tribute to Jaroslav Vanek who spent thirty-two years at Cornell University where he founded the Program on Participation and Labor-Managed Systems in 1970, which became the home for economic research on these issues in the United States. As such, it is a brief intellectual history of a multidimensional scholar. Vanek’s seminal work in the American Economic Review in 1969 marked the culmination of a decade of work on labor-management inspired by his brother Jan’s work on Yugoslavia, considered then to be a worker-managed economic system. In two rapidly following tomes, Vanek laid out the landscape for the development of a new sub-field in economics by providing precursors to many of the results to follow. In that previous decade, Vanek produced papers in traditional economic theory, e.g., international trade and economic growth. His mind set persists in the interplay between the emerging theory of labor-managed firms and traditional economic literature that takes seriously the role of organizational form. This essay develops that cross-pollination and seeks to identify the remaining questions and issues for future work that the economics profession owes to Jaroslav Vanek.

Keywords: Labor-Managed Firm, Participatory Economy

Suggested Citation

Bonin, John P., The Intellectual Legacy of Jaroslav Vanek: How the Twain Met (May 12, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

John P. Bonin (Contact Author)

Wesleyan University - Economics Department ( email )

Middletown, CT 06459
United States
203-685-2000 (Phone)

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