chapter  10
19 Pages

The Amoral, Calculating Manager: Rational Decision Making in Gunnar Myrdal's Walrasian Theory

One way of searching for the meaning of concrete economics is to examine the abstract. The Swedish national economist Gunnar Myrdal (1898-1987) had in his youth a view of business that can be described as abstract. This view is interesting because it came to dominate the education of the economists who populate organizations and businesses of both the public and the private sectors in present-day in Sweden. When the young Myrdal understood that the opportunities offered by a career in law were limited, he began instead to study economics under Gustav Cassel in Stockholm. Myrdal soon became one of a small group of economists whom Cassel nurtured toward an academic career. Cassel was of a frugal turn of mind and considered that a small country like Sweden could well manage with a small group of economic thinkers. Their major job at this time was the public criticism of state economic policy, but the younger economists also began to criticize their older colleagues. This criticism took place not only in writings but also in the National Economic Club, which had been founded in Stockholm by the famous and original Swedish economist Knut Wicksell. After retirement from his professorship at the University of Lund, Wicksell had moved to Stockholm. The younger group, led by Gunnar Myrdal and Bertil Ohlin, would later become known internationally under the name of the Stockholm School. In the early days, however, the battle was directed against the domination of the older generation. Cassel himself called Myrdal a "radical socialist of a dictatorial persuasion"; 1 another of the older school described him as "father murderer."2 The attack on concrete economics had begun!