Symposium: John Kenneth Galbraith and institutional economics.

Author:Adkisson, Richard V.
Position:In memoriam


What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. (William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

Many of us who wear the label "original institutionalist" like to think of John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) as one of us, one of the enlightened few who see the economy as it really is. There is some basis for this. In the early years of the Association for Evolutionary Economics Galbraith served on the governing board. He received the Association's Veblen-Commons Award. He is twice published on the pages of the Journal of Economic Issues (1977; 1989). Ekelund and Hebert referred to Galbraith as "the institutionalist's popularizer" (1997, 429). Given the breadth of his intellectual scope, it may be too much of a stretch to once-and-forever affix the institutionalist label to Galbraith. Still, there is no denying that his ideas and the ideas we call institutionalist have significant overlap. It is less of a stretch to argue that he was influenced by early institutionalists and to say that he influenced many of us is no stretch at all. As the quote above suggests, perhaps the label is not all that important anyway.

The purpose of this symposium is two-fold. One purpose is to pay tribute to one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. For many of us Galbraith influenced our teachers, ourselves, our students and, for some, our "grandstudents" as well. For many of us Galbraith's writings were our first exposure to non-conventional economic ideas. Galbraith casts a long intellectual shadow. Another purpose is to briefly explore the overlap between Galbraith's ideas and original institutionalism and, in some sense, to consider his legacy. In this regard, Galbraith responded to a previous...

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