Entrepreneurship, knowledge and employment

The role of plans and intentionality in Lachmann economics

Muñoz Félix-Fernando, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

The paper elaborates on the concepts of action plans and intentions, both of them central in Lachmann’s writings (see Lachmann, 1956, 1994). Human action is rational –action guided by reasons to act (Searle, 2001)- and within a society it implies strategic behaviour. Strategies are plans of action that individuals adopt primarily for reasons to achieve preferred outcomes in light of expectations of the likely strategies of others (Ostrom, 2013). Action plans depend on the beliefs, expectations, theories about the world, values, ethical statements, etc. held by each agent on a precise spatial and social location at a particular instant of time (Rubio de Urquía, 2005)– that is, a subjective position. For Lachmann subjectivism relates not only to the direction of human intentions and plans, but also to those resultants of human action that are unintended –that Austrians called spontaneous orders (Lavoie, 1994). Departing from a technical framework that allows us to integrate intentions, actions, and the economic outcome of interaction (Muñoz & Encinar, 2014), we represent the economy as an ecology of plans (Wagner, 2012) where phenomena such as entrepreneurship, knowledge, innovation and employment are emergent properties (Antonelli, 2011). This framework not only illuminates Lachmann’s connection with Shackle (1972) and Loasby (1999), but also to the recent literature on evolutionary economics (Dopfer & Potts, 2014), complexity (Arthur, 2015; Wilson & Kirman, 2016), ABM (Tesfatsion, 2016) and AI (Russell & Norvig, 2010). In this sense, the paper shows how Lachmann’s contribution to economic theory may well be projected into XXI Century economics.


Keywords: Lachmann; action plans; intentionality; knowledge; entrepreneurship; evolutionary complex systems

Paper file