Competition, Economic Planning, and the Knowledge Problem

By Israel M. Kirzner
Edited by Peter J. Boettke and Frédéric Sautet


Competition, Economic Planning, and the Knowledge Problem expands on the ideas Kirzner first discussed in Competition and Entrepreneurship—the role of the entrepreneur and its relation to the determination of prices and the coordination of individuals’ plans—as well as economic planning, the knowledge problem, market-process theory, and the parts played by information, knowledge, and advertising. It includes a paper on F. A. Hayek’s theory of market coordination and the Austrian business-cycle theory—seen now for the first time in its original English.

As a whole, the volume expresses Kirzner’s understanding that economics cannot be separated from its human element. Competition is a rivalrous process of entrepreneurial activity in which individuals and firms discover, innovate, and outdo each other. Kirzner discusses why this dynamic view of the economy is so important to understand, particularly in the contexts of economic planning and the workings of competitive markets.

Over the course of this book’s nineteen articles and one monograph, Kirzner also stresses another point: though knowledge is present in all economic interaction, it is also dispersed in the economy such that no individual mind can ever centralize it all. This “knowledge problem” implies, as Mises and Hayek have argued, the impossibility of central planning. Kirzner’s contribution is to show that, ultimately, it is only the free, competitive entrepreneurial process that can overcome this problem through generation of knowledge that enables the most efficient allocation of scarce resources.

Israel M. Kirzner is a leading economist in the Austrian School and Professor Emeritus of Economics at New York University.

Peter J. Boettke is University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University and the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center. His publications include Living Economics, The Handbook of Contemporary Austrian Economics, and The Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics. He has been the editor of The Review of Austrian Economics since 1998.

Frédéric Sautet is Associate Professor at The Catholic University of America, Tim Busch School of Business and Economics. He is a specialist in Austrian market process theory and teaches entrepreneurship studies. He is the author of An Entrepreneurial Theory of the Firm and has published widely on entrepreneurship.


Kirzner7 9780865978621 800h


Trim size: 6 x 9

Pages: 384

Collection: The Collected Works of Israel M. Kirzner

Publication date: January 2018