chapter  9
30 Pages

Joan Robinson and Economic Theory

WithA. Asimakopulos

Joan Robinson was a Cambridge economist whose work falls within the Marshaliian tradition. Her writings, such as those on imperfect competition, the theory of employment and the accumulation of capital were motivated by a desire to extend economic theory. Robinson's investigation of the theory of capital and the production function can be seen as initially having a constructive as well as a critical purpose. Its constructive purpose was to find acceptable ways of dealing with the process of accumulation, given the state of technical knowledge, a process that leads to a 'deepening' of the capital stock. Equilibrium growth paths are clearly very special within the general framework of Keynesian theory, but their elaboration in the central part of The Accumulation of Capital, with reservations more in the nature of anecdotal comments, gives them undue importance. The economic system has difficulty in adapting to changes in the rate of technical progress, as well as to 'biased' changes since they destroy 'tranquillity'.