Famous business economists and their
By Prof. Dr. Khawaja
Oct 16 - 22, 2000
Philosophy dominated the world for a very long time. Thoughts of
Philosophers continued to serve as guidelines for several generations to shape their
course of actions. However, later, Economics developed as a very powerful subject and
several Economists made significant contributions in the areas of micro-economics, macro
economics, development economics, industrial economics, agricultural economics, managerial
economics etc. The list of celebrated Economists is very long. However, this piece reviews
significant contributions by famous business Economists on a global dimension. Ideas
contributed by them have positively affected the role of management and it is very
important that every student of management must study the work contributed by the famous
Schools of thought: In respect of the above aspects, the world
has been dominated by two schools of thoughts. Their views are briefly summarised below:
Chicago and MIT: The first school of thought is dominated by
Chicago and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Their great emphasis has been on
developing classical text books of economics. These text books have been very popular all
over the world. Readers from developing and developed part of the world have been great
beneficiaries. Text books are still being used for study by the students pursuing various
courses in Schools/Universities offering courses in Business Administration/Management.
These books provide basic framework and business students pursuing the above courses
develop broader perspective in economic analysis for effective and dynamic
Harvard and Darden: The second school of thought has emphasis on
applied basis. The stress is on integrating the thoughts of Economists into international
study courses in business for efficient management. This school of thought focuses
attention on applied economics. The rise of managerial economics can also be attributed to
this school of thought.
Famous business economists:
While all economists who made
contributions in the area of economics deserve full appreciation, this piece briefly
presents major thoughts of famous business economists.
1. Jhon Maynard Keynes (Cambridge, U.K.)
His famous treatises include The General Theory of Employment, Interest
and Money (year 1936). He wrote during depression years of the World Economy. However, he
strongly believed that Government intervention could significantly improve the operations
of the economy of a country.
2. Milton Friedman
As against Keynes, he wrote during the boom years. He belonged to the
University of Chicago (USA). He strongly believed in the power of the market to heal
itself. In his view, free market economies are the best in the long run.
3. Adam Smith (1776 Scotland)
He is generally known as the father of Capitalism. His major emphasis
in his world renowned book namely, The Wealth of Nations, was on division of labour and
invisible hand of competition.
4. Joseph Schumpeter
He was originally from Austria but became a famous business economist
from Harvard. He became very prominent due to his view point which stressed that
entrepreneurship is the crucial factor in economic life. Entrepreneures create new
industries that displace others in a painful and disquieting way. The crying need of the
21st Century is entrepreneurial revolution which will ensure social stability, result in
innovative initiatives and add to the prosperity chapter in the world by alleviating
5. Jhon Kenneth Galbraith
He hails from Harvard. His three celebrated books namely, American
Capitalism (1951), The Affluent Society (1958) and The New Industrial State (1967) have
been very popular. His rousing lectures created lot of market for his publications. He
de-emphasised production in favour of public services.
6. Arthur Okun
He belonged to Yales. He carefully studied co-relation of economic
growth and unemployment. According to him, if GNP increases by 2.2%, unemployment
decreases by 1.1%. His emphasis was on sustained economic growth.
7. Arthur Laffer
He was known as the supply side economist of 1980s. He was associated
with the University of Southern California. He explained that"Supply" increase
in productivity increases level of "Supply" and produces more wealth and
economic growth. His thoughts dominated the world scene during Reagon administration. He
is the author of the famous concept of Laffer's Curve. According to this curve, tax
revenues will increase if the rate of tax decreases.
Dr. Mehboobul Haq
He was educated at Oxford and Yale and had nice exposure and
interaction in Harvard. Hailing from Pakistan, he championed the cause of human resource
development and developed Human Development Index (HDI). Under the auspices of UNDP, he
regularly published one work namely, Human Development on Global Basis. Similar initiative
was undertaken by him in respect of South Asia. His moving thoughts on Human Resource
Development (HRD) have been instrumental in motivating the world to give special attention
in developing human capital as an accelerator for socio-economic development and for
ensuring prosperity on wider basis.
Phillip Kotler and Michael E. Porter
In recent times, Phillip Kotler (North-West University, Kellog), and
Michael Porter (Harvard) have made considerable mark due to their contributions in the
area of marketing. The whole world acknowledges their innovative publications which have
awakened the business community on industry analysis and competitive spirit. Phillip
Kotler's books on marketing have benefitted the readers all over the world. Porter's Five
Force Model have introduced innovative approach on competitive form in the world. This
includes the following:
a) The threat of new competitors entering the
b) The intensity of rivalry among existing
c) The threat of substitute products or services.
d) The bargaining power of buyers.
e) The bargaining power of suppliers.
Students in business management courses and managers in practical field
ought to study the great works developed by the foregoing Economists to improve decision
making and ensure increase in profitability, productivity, growth, market penetration and
provide strong leadership to enterprises. Indeed businesses will be revolutionized in
terms of improved operations due to comprehension and implementation of thoughts
contributed by the above celebrated business economists.
*Former Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Punjab and
Founder Director, Institute of Business Administration, University of the Punjab, Lahore.