Economizing, Innovating and Sustainable Economic Performance: A Business School Perspective

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Green Business, Green Values & Sustainability, 2011, 1, pp. 52 - 66
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T he a im of this chapter is to revisit Lionel Robbins's famous definition of econo mics from a business school perspective and in the light of post· Robbins developments in neoclassica l economic theory, evolutionary eco ~ norn ics and management schol arship. The th rust of our argument is that while economics in its Robbinsian "economi zing" guise conta ins important lessons fo r business school audiences, his insistence on econo mic a na lysis proceed ing by taking means-resources-wha t he ca lls the " ultimate data" of " technique" and institutions (such as property rights)-as givens, may actua lly divert attention from or even obsc ure va riolls other issues of ce n ~ tral impo rta nce from a business sc hool perspec tive. The reason for th is is that while business leaders and managers are certa inly interested in ques ~ tions of economi zing, they are a lso interested in questions of innovation and st rategy. Many of the issues involved here are ones that have less to do with the efficient allocation of given resources than with addressi ng questions of how resource constra ints might be reduced (i.e., with technological cha nge, increasing returns, intertemporal effi ciencies and the productivityen hancing effects of the co-evolu tionary character of market struct ures, organizations and technologica l change. These factors are vital dete rmi ~ nants of intertemporal efficiency and susta inable economic performance, and therefo re cannot be t reated simply as parameters that a re only interesting insofar as they a ffect relative scarcities.
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