A Heterodox Theory of the Business Enterprise

Jo, Tae-Hee. 2016. “A Heterodox Theory of the Business Enterprise.” MPRA Working Paper  72426. [Download the paper]

Note: This paper is an early draft of the chapter to be published in the Routledge Handbook of Heterodox Economics, edited by Tae-Hee Jo, Lynne Chester, and Carlo D’Ippoliti, 2017.

Abstract: The business enterprise directs and controls the social provisioning process. Enterprise decisions on price, investment, output and employment, in particular, directly affect the material basis of society as well as the material standard of living of working class households. The understanding the structure of and changes in the capitalist capitalists system thus requires a theory of the business enterprise that offers relevant and convincing explanations of business decisions and actions embedded in the wider social context. Such a theory must replace the mainstream-neoclassical theory of the firm, which is not only theoretically incoherent but also practically irrelevant since it confines itself to the hypothetical market structure and individual optimizing behavior. With this rationale this chapter attempts to build a heterodox theory of the business enterprises incorporating contributions made by various theoretical traditions in heterodox economics.

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The Social Provisioning Process and Heterodox Economics

Jo, Tae-Hee. 2016. “The Social Provisioning Process and Heterodox Economics,” MPRA Working Paper 72384. [Download the paper]

Note: This paper is written for the Routledge Handbook of Heterodox Economics, edited by Tae-Hee Jo, Lynne Chester, and Carlo D’Ippoliti, to be published in 2017 by Routledge. A later, revised version is co-authored with Zdravka Todorova.

Abstract: The social provisioning process is how heterodox economists define economics in general. Instead of having a narrow definition of what constitutes economics, such as the mainstream has with its allocation of scarce resources among competing ends via the price mechanism, heterodox economists have opted for a much more expansive definition that permits different theoretical explanations for ways in which the provisioning process can take place in different types of economies in different historical contexts. In this chapter, we first examine the changes in the definition of economics from classical political economy to neoclassical and heterodox economics. The comparison between classical political economy and neoclassical economics manifests a clear distinction in view of economy and economics. The second section substantiates the meaning of the social provisioning process. In doing so we make a case that, first, defining heterodox economics as the study of the social provisioning process positions heterodox economics as an alternative to neoclassical economics, and, second, that such an expansive definition of economics has potential to synthesize various heterodox theoretical frameworks in a constructive manner.

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JEI: What if there are no conventional price mechanisms?

Tae-Hee Jo. 2016. “What if there are no conventional price mechanisms?” Journal of Economic Issues, 50 (2): 327-344. AFEE Presidential address on behalf of Professor Frederic S. Lee. [ link to the article ]

Abstract

Inspired by Frederic (“Fred”) S. Lee’s theoretical contribution to institutional-heterodox economics, I make the case that the neoclassical price mechanism is not only flawed, but also irrelevant for the study of actual coordination mechanisms, hence the price mechanism — as a theory as well as a way of thinking — should be discarded. While this position was addressed by early institutionalists, starting with Thorstein Veblen, later institutionalists have not completely rejected the price mechanism. The sympathy for the price mechanism has prevented institutionalists (and other heterodox economists) from fully developing an alternative theoretical framework concerning how actual economic activities are organized. I, therefore, provide an institutionalist-heterodox framework of the provisioning process focusing on business enterprise activities. This framework shows how institutional economics becomes more refined and useful when it is married to other traditions in heterodox economics, in particular, Marxian, social, and post-Keynesian economics. Such an integrative approach is what Fred Lee showed through his work toward producing a better theory and policy for the underlying population.

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Frederic S. Lee and His Fight for the Future of Heterodox Economics

Jo, Tae-Hee (2016): “Frederic S. Lee and His Fight for the Future of Heterodox Economics.” MPRA Working Paper no. 68800. January 12. Download (145kB)

Abstract

Frederic S. Lee (1949-2014) was a dedicated captain of the heterodox economics movement over the past thirty years. In his unfaltering fight for the future of heterodox economics, Lee contributed to both the development of heterodox microeconomic theory and the establishment of a global community of heterodox economists. This short tribute delineates Lee’s unique and important contribution that should be remembered and renewed in order to reproduce heterodox economics.

 

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BPE: Financing Investment under Fundamental Uncertainty and Instability: A Heterodox Microeconomic View

Tae-Hee Jo. 2015. “Financing Investment under Fundamental Uncertainty and Instability: A Heterodox Microeconomic View,” Bulletin of Political Economy, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 33-54.

Abstract

This study inquires into investment and finance decisions as they are related to other decisions within the going business enterprise embedded in the monetary social provisioning process. When it comes to investment and finance, business enterprises’ strategic decisions often escape notice by heterodox macroeconomists. In place of strategic decisions, financing and investment are mainly looked at through the operation of the financial market in which the supply of and demand for investment funds are coordinated by the prices of funds. Consequently, heterodox macroeconomic theory of investment and finance deals mainly with external financing. In this article I argue that the strategically generated internal means of finance is the main source of fixed investment, especially when the economy is in recession or economic instability is increasing. The positive empirical relationship between external finance and fixed investment is hardly discerned. Even the financialization of non-financial corporations in recent decades has not reduced the importance of internal financing over external financing.

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Tributes in Memory of Frederic S. Lee

Tributes in Memory of Frederic S. Lee, edited by Tae-Hee Jo, February 2015. [click on the link to download a pdf file]

This is a collection of tributes read at the Memorial Service on November 8, 2014 (Chapter 1), obituaries written by his family and colleagues (Chapter 2), and messages sent in after his passing (Chapter 3). Tributes appear in the Festschrift for Fred Lee, and various events, such as conference sessions in honor or memory of Fred Lee, are also included in Chapter 3.

“They say, we die twice—once when the last breath leaves our body and once when the last person we know says our name.”

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Advancing the Frontiers of Heterodox Economics: Essays in Honor of Frederic S. Lee

edited by

Tae-Hee Jo and Zdravka Todorova

Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics

ISBN: 978-0-415-73031-0 (hardback), 358 pages, $155. August 2015, Routledge. (20% Discount code: FLR40)

[Book details at the Routledge website] [Look inside]

This collection of essays honors the life and work of one of the most prominent and fervent heterodox economists, Frederic S. Lee, who has been at the heart of the heterodox economics movements for the past three decades. Authors in this book demonstrate that heterodox economic has transcended the criticism of mainstream economics and, more importantly, that constructive developments are in the making by way of cross-communications among various heterodox economics traditions.

Frederic S. Lee’s contributions to heterodox economics are centered on three themes: the making of a history and identity of heterodox economics, heterodox microeconomics, and the heterodox analysis of social provisioning. Part I addresses the importance of history, theory, research methods, and institutions in the making of the identity of heterodox economics as an alternative to mainstream economics. Part II delves into heterodox microeconomic theories—in particular, investment, pricing, competition, markets, and market governance—as foundations of heterodox macroeconomic analyses. Part III expands the analysis of the capitalist social provisioning process with an emphasis on its subsystems and their relationships over historical time. Part IV encapsulates the life and work of Frederic S. Lee.

Throughout his intellectual life Frederic S. Lee has shown to many that the development of heterodox economics is rendered possible by unselfish and ceaseless efforts to build both theory and institutions. Essays in this book attest that establishing an alternative critical theory to the status quo is not only possible but also serviceable to the majority of the population.


Contents

Foreword by Sheila C. Dow

Foreword by John F. Henry

Introduction: Frederic S. Lee’s contributions to heterodox economics
Tae-Hee Jo and Zdravka Todorova

Part I

Making History and Identity of Heterodox Economics by Developing Theory and Institutions

  1. Heterodox economics and the history of economic thought
    Carlo D’lppoliti and Alessandro Roncaglia
  2. The Association for Heterodox Economics: past, present, and future
    Andrew Mearman and Bruce Philp
  3. Heterodox economics, distribution and the class struggle
    Bruce Philp and Andrew Trigg
  4. Qualitative data and grounded theory in heterodox economic research: insights from three Australian studies
    Therese Jefferson

Part II

Heterodox Microeconomics and the Foundations of Heterodox Macroeconomics

  1. Heterodox microeconomics and heterodox microfoundations
    Tae-Hee Jo
  2. Beyond foundations: systemism in economic thinking
    Jakob Kapeller
  3. Post Keynesian investment and pricing theory: contributions of Alfred S. Eichner and Frederic S. Lee
    Ruslan Dzarasov
  4. Effects of competition upon profit margins from a Post Keynesian perspective
    Jordan Melmiès
  5. Inter- and intra-firm governance in heterodox microeconomics: the case of the US software industry
    Erik Dean
  6. Analyzing actually-existing markets
    Lynne Chester

Part III

Advancing the Heterodox Analysis of Social Provisioning

  1. Advancing heterodox economics in the tradition of the surplus approach
    Nuno Martins
  2. Consumption in the context of social provisioning and capitalism: beyond consumer choice and aggregates
    Zdravka Todorova
  3. Social provisioning process, market instability, and managed competition
    Tuna Baskoy
  4. The embedded state and social provisioning: insights from Norbert Elias
    Bruno Tinel
  5. Analogies we suffer by: the case of the state as a household
    Huáscar Pessali, Fabiano Dalto, and Ramón García Fernández
  6. Technological-institutional foundations of the social economy: a framework for the analysis of change in the social provisioning process
    Henning Shwardt

Part IV

The Heterodox Economics of Frederic S. Lee

  1. Predestined to heterodoxy or how I became a heterodox economist
    Frederic S. Lee
  2. Frederic Sterling Lee (1949-2014)
    John E. King
  3. In memoriam: Frederic S. Lee, 1949-2014
    Jan A. Kregel and L. Randall Wray
  4. The Bibliography of Frederic S. Lee’s Writings
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Dr. Tae-Hee Jo

Economics and Finance Department
SUNY Buffalo State
1300 Elmwood Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14222
USA

o: Classroom Building B333
t: 716-878-3374
e: taeheejo [at] gmail.com
e: joth [at] buffalostate.edu

Recent Posts
Book
Essays in Honor of Frederic S. Lee

Advancing the Frontiers of Heterodox Economics: Essays in Honor of Frederic S. Lee (2015)

Book
Marx, Veblen, and Foundations of Heterodox Economics

Marx, Veblen, and the Foundations of Heterodox Economics: Essays in Honor of John F. Henry (2015)