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Albert O. Hirschman R.I.P

December 11, 2012

No-exitThe author of the seminal and must-read Exit, Voice, and Loyalty has passed away. Marginal Revolution and Dan Drezner have good summaries of his life’s work. Hirschman developed his exit/voice framework to convince economists that they paid too little attention to voice as a method of reforming institutions.  He thought they focused too much on exit. Would that were true now! And he even theorized that if the power of exit were constrained, then the practices of voice would grow more useful and powerful. It appears that almost the opposite is true: the more competitive the market, the more powerful voice becomes. Think of writing a letter full of grievances to the DMV compared to filing a complaint with Starbucks.

At any rate, his contribution to political theory and economics is immense. Vixit.

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