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Was Frank Knight an Institutionalist?

Pier Asso () and Luca Fiorito ()

Department of Economics University of Siena from Department of Economics, University of Siena

Abstract: This paper critically examines Geoffrey Hodgson's recent provocative claim about Frank Knight as being a member of American institutionalism in the interwar years. In the first section of the paper the authors attempt to provide a definition of institutionalism and to emphasize its meaning from a historiographic point of view. The second and third sections analyze the two main methodological struggles between Knight and the institutionalists, namely, the debate during the early 1020s over the use of instinct theory as an explanation of economic behavior, and the subsequent campaign led by Knight in the late 1920s and early 1930s against the behaviorist wing of American institutionalism à la Copeland and Ayres. The fourth section deals with Knight's own brand of institutionalism. Our main conclusions are that, even if Knight's approach to the study of economic behavior shows some significant affinities with American institutionalism, he was not – both sociologically and in terms of his philosophical premises - an institutionalist.

JEL-codes: B15 B25 B41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2005-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-hpe and nep-pke
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:usi:wpaper:461

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