November 3, 2014

Israel Kirzner as an option for the Nobel Prize

As Brandon Meyer has written, Economist Jean Tirole has received the Nobel Prize for Economics this year. However, according to one source,, authored by Richard Ebeling, professor of Economics at Northwood University, argues that Israel Kirzner's work regarding entrepreneurs and alertness has long gone unrewarded. Ebeling considers Kirzner as long overdue for a Nobel Prize.

While studying for his MBA at New York University, Kirzner became connected with his professor, Ludwig von Mises. Mises's theory that the market operates as a process rather than a location or event revolutionized Kirzner's thinking. Kirzner completed some graduate work under Mises in the years 1952-54, and became full time professor at New York University in 1968-2001. During this time, Kirzner was a prolific writer, becoming a key figure in the advancement of Austrian thought.

Kirzner stated that an entrepreneur is one who is alert to mismatches and future profits that could be made in a market. What distinctions Kirzner made from previous thought on the subject is that entrepreneurs operate outside existing markets as they search and exploit areas where current markets have either not maximized profits or in creating new products or services and markets. Therefore, the work of an entrepreneur is not reflected in the market process; entrepreneurial ability cannot be bought and sold.

Prior to Kirzner, the role of the entrepreneurial role had been hard to define given the then current thought in economics.While it has been debated whether entrepreneurs behave exactly as Kirzner has claimed, the framework of an entrepreneur being external actor on current markets has been widely used and accepted as one of the best ways to describe entrepreneurial activity in economic terms.

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