Why Managers Matter: The Perils of the Bossless Company (with Nicolai J. Foss) was published October 2022 by PublicAffairs/Hachette. It is a trade book aimed at the general reader. We challenge the claim that the traditional managerial hierarchy is obsolete and that all firms should embrace the lean, flat, fluid, near-bossless organizational structure.
Dick Rumelt says we “have created a welcome counter to the voices who see management as the problem rather than the solution. Absent hierarchy, they teach, unfocused variety grows but lacks the value and competitive punch of focused activity.” And listen to Henry Chesbrough: “Using careful research, solid evidence, and a thoughtful perspective on management and organizations, Foss and Klein persuasively demonstrate that managers—and management—will remain essential to the modern economy in the twenty-first century.”
The Financial Times recommends us for its monthly “books to read” feature. Here is a short interview for boss’s day. I’ve done several podcasts on the book including Outthinkers, Manager360, Economics for Business, the Tom Woods Show, and more. This LSE Business Review piece is a spin-off. And check out this symposium in the Journal of Organization Design. Reviews and commentary have appeared in outlets such as strategy+business, Forbes, Leading, and elsewhere.
Our 2012 book Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012) [Cambridge] [Amazon] outlines and develops a “judgment-based approach” of entrepreneurship that emphasizes action, uncertainty, and resources as the key elements of entrepreneurship theory and practice. Shaker Zahra calls it “a path breaking book” offering “rich and original insights that will undoubtedly revise long held views of entrepreneurship in organizations and how managers make judgments about entrepreneurial initiatives.” The book won the 2014 Foundation for Economic Education Best Book Prize. Here is a Polish translation by Jan Lewiński, Organizowanie działania przedsiębiorczego. Nowe spojrzenie na firmę (Wroclaw: Instytut Ludwiga von Misesa, 2017), and a Chinese translation by Haijiu Zhu, Jingjing Wang, and Yuxiao Tu, Qi ye jia de qi ye li lun (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2020).
Here are Foss and I discussing the book at the 2012 Austrian Economics Research Conference, and here is an interview about the book with sintetia.com. HansEconomics provided summaries of the key chapters. Our 2015 symposium in the Journal of Institutional Economics (1, 2, 3, 4) discusses the newest developments in the judgment-based approach. Here are book reviews in Economica, Organization Studies, International Small Business Journal, POLICY Magazine, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, and Review of Austrian Economics.
In 2010 I published The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute), a collection of my essays originally published from 1996 to 2009. [Mises] [Amazon] The chapters cover a variety of topics in the theory of the firm, entrepreneurship theory, the Austrian school of economics, and related issues. Henry Manne called it “a superb book,” adding that “[t]he storied entrepreneur is about to have a new chapter written in its intellectual history.”
Here’s a short video about the book. It has also been published in Portuguese (via Mises Brasil) and Chinese (via Shanghai University of Finance and Economics Press) editions. Here are some remarks about the translations and what they imply for the spread of the Austrian perspective around the world.
Michael Sykuta and I edited the Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics (Edward Elgar, 2010), a collection of original essays on transaction costs, property rights, and institutions written by leading scholars in economics, management, and law. [Elgar] [Amazon] Contributors include Nick Argyres, Mie Augier, Alexandra Benham, Lee Benham, Nicolai Foss, Geoffrey Hodgson, Benjamin Klein, Joseph Mahoney, Claude Ménard, Steven Michael, Jackson Nickerson, Laura Poppo, Emmanuel Raynaud, Bruce Rayton, Saras Sarasvathy, Gordon Smith, Dean Williamson, Oliver Williamson, Joshua Wright, James Yen, and Tony Yu.
Scott Masten says: “Not too long ago it was possible to be familiar with all of the important works and latest developments in transaction cost economics. That that is no longer the case is a testament to the intellectual appeal and empirical success of the transaction cost approach. For newcomers, the entries in this volume, by some of TCE’s most knowledgeable and eloquent contributors, offer an excellent introduction to the issues, methods, discoveries, and debates in the field; for veterans, the volume provides a highly valuable resource for catching up on the newest research.”
In 2002 Foss and I published Entrepreneurship and the Firm: Austrian Perspectives on Economic Organization (Edward Elgar), a collection of essays on Austrian economics and the theory of the firm. [Elgar] [Amazon]
The book is based on a conference we organized in 1998 at the Copenhagen Business School. Contributors include Jerry Ellig, Kirsten Foss, Pierre Garrouste, Woflgang Gick, Shelby Hunt, Stavros Ioannides, Sandra Klein, Richard Langlois, Peter Lewin, Brian Loasby, Steven Phelan, Marti Vihanto, and ourselves.
I edited The Fortunes of Liberalism: Essays on Austrian Economics and the Ideal of Freedom, volume 4 of The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek (University of Chicago Press and Routledge, 1992). [Chicago] [Routledge] [Amazon] The volume contains Hayek’s biographical essays on important figures such as Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Joseph Schumpeter, and Ernst Mach, as well as historical essays on the rediscovery of freedom (i.e., liberalism in the European sense) in Europe after World War II.
I worked under the supervision of Founding Series Editor W. W. Bartley, III, and his successor Stephen Kresge. The series is now edited by Bruce Caldwell.