Journal of Economic Issues


Volume 32, December 1998




Volume 32, December 1998

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Clark, Carol L. and Baglione, Lisa A.

Men of Steel Meet the Market: Interpreting Firm Behavior in Russia’s Metallurgy Industry

This paper examines the market strategies of two Russian firms, Staleprokatnii Zavod and Tulachermet. Although the two firms shared similar environments at the beginning of the economic transition in Russia, their strategies differed markedly. This difference in strategy is explained by appeal to two competing theories of the firm, namely the neoclassical and Penrosian views. The two perspectives explain why, in a given environment, firms choose different approaches and why a Penrosian firm will more likely succeed under the conditions of the Russian transition. Key to this conclusion are the different notions of uncertainty underlying the two theories. J. Econ. Issues, December, 1998, 32(4), pp. 925-964, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A. and St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Heidenreich, Regine

Economics and Institutions: The Socioeconomic Approach of K. William Kapp

This review clarifies Kapp’s philosophy of science, his concept of rationality, and his cultural approach to economics. He anticipated the basic needs approach and, as early as the 1950s, focused on problems of environmental disruption in third world countries. In his later years he explored an evolutionary and institutional approach to economics, incorporating a constructivist concept of institutions and externalities based on a distinctive model of social action. Kapp’s lifework has important implications for allocation theory: social welfare must be constituted in a social discourse that leads to a search for alternative institutional arrangements. J. Econ. Issues, December, 1998, 32(4), pp. 965-984, Regensburg University, Regensburg, Germany.

Lawson, Catherine L.

The Second Stage of Bioethics and Institutional Economics

Changes in financing practices, health care delivery methods, and medical technologies have led to intense self-examination and fundamental reorientation in the health care system. Medical ethics is one component under examination, in part because it is increasingly called upon to address questions not formerly viewed as within its purview. Because these questions frequently concern economic issues, the necessity for collaboration between bioethicists and economists arises. It is argued that institutional economics is well-suited to this endeavor, given its focus on ethics, its interest in a technological basis of value, and its assessment of instrumental versus ceremonial behavior. J. Econ. Issues, December, 1998, 32(4), pp. 985-998, Missouri Western State College, St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S.A.

Pitelis, C.N.

Transaction Costs and the Historical Evolution of the Capitalist Firm

The aim is to critically assess the contribution of transaction costs economics (TCE) in explaining the "nature of the firm". It is suggested that TCE suffers from a number of conceptual problems, but notably it is static and ahistoircal. An evolutionary, historically informed perspective on the firm points to the limits (but also some strengths) of transaction cost economics and to the need for an integrated perspective that synthesizes alternative perspectives along with TCE in an evolutionary, historically informed way. J, Econ. Issues, December, 1998, 32(4), pp. 999-1018, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England

Atkinson, Glen and Oleson, Theodore Jr.

Commons and Keynes: Their Assult on Laissez Faire

Examines the similarities and differences between John Maynard Keynes and John Rogers Commons. Sharing a skeptical attitude toward deterministic models based on pure reason or even on mathematical probability, they were determined to incorporate money and other pecuniary institutions into economic theory. These concerns led them to examine changes in capitalism that were due to the evolution of property and the need to develop new institutions to save capitalism from the consequences of uncertainty. J. Econ. Issues, December, 1998, 32(4),pp. 1019-1030, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, U.S.A. and University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, U.S.A.

Mazzoleni, Roberto and Nelson, Richard R.

Economic Theories about the Benefits and Costs of Patents

There are several different theories about the economic function of patents. This paper lays them out, and examines the particular economic contexts assumed by each. It is argued that different theories presume different contexts and it is important, therefore, to know the industries and technologies where these different context conditions obtain. Unfortunately, our understanding of what roles patents play in different industries and technologies is quite limited. This limits the ability of economists to analyze some of the major pressing patent policy issues., J. Econ. Issues, December, 1998, 32(4), pp. 1031-1052, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, U.S.A. and Columbia University, New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Kesting, Stefan

A Potential for Understanding and the Inference of Power: Discourse as an Economic Mechanism of Coordination

The productive potential of communication is developed according to the discourse theory of the German philosopher Juergen Habermas. Reframed by economists and sociologists into some rules of discourse, the value of Habermas’s concept and its related definition of the productivity of language can be demonstrated by interpreting some case studies of economic and ecological conflicts. It is shown that communication leads to satisfying and creative solutions to problems, even as speech is used as an instrument of power. J. Econ. Issues, December, 1998, 32(4), pp. 1053-1078, Bremen University, Bremen, Germany

Garis, Dalton

Poverty, Single-Parent Households, and Youth At-Risk Behavior: An Empirical Study

The effects of family characteristics for an eighth grade cohort of over 10,000, upon involvement in drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual activity. Using a dichotomous probit regression technique, it is found that increased income increases the likelihood that children will have a drug and/or alcohol problem, and that children of single parent families are not more likely to become involved in at-risk activities if both parents remain involved. These findings contrast with the accepted popular notion tha thte root cause of youth at-risk behavior is poverty and single parent families. J. Econ. Issues, December, 1998, 32(4), pp. 1079-1106, Santa Fe Community College, Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A.


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Last Updated on: February 12, 1999