Friday, February 22, 2013

Tributes to Armen Alchian

 Alchian, a founder both of the theory of property rights and of the economics of organization, economist “extraordinaire”, died at 98.

Here is David’s Henderson’s piece in Econolog, quoting Hayek:

"There are two economists who deserve the Nobel prize because their work is important but won't get it because they didn't do a lot of work: Ronald Coase and Armen Alchian." Unfortunately he was right about Alchian not winning the prize, even though, Henderson writes:

“not only did Armen write a lot but also he wrote unusually well for an economist. As evidence of quantity, consider the fact that Liberty Fund put together 2 hefty volumes of his work that total over 1,500 pages. Most of us would think of that as "a lot."

And here is Shane Greenstein’s post in Digitopoly.

“Armen’s most-cited paper is his work with Harold Demsetz, published in the American Economic Review in 1972.  This paper may be the most influential paper in the economics of organization, catalyzing the development of the field as we know it.  It is the most-cited paper published in the AER in the past 40 years.  (If one takes away finance and econometrics methods papers, it is the most-cited “economics” paper, period.)  It is truly a spectacular piece.  It is a theory not only of firms’ boundaries, but also the firm’s hierarchical and financial structure.”

A paper I put at the center of my own teaching at Sciences Po for many years.

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