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Extra resources for Alfred Marshall and Modern Economics: Equilibrium Theory and Evolutionary Economics
In essence, the foundations were replaced without the building standing above receiving a single jolt from it all, and it was the great ability of Marshall which allowed the transformation to pass unnoticed. (Sraffa 1925: 346–7, emphasis added) 32 Alfred Marshall and Modern Economics Interpretations of Marshall’s long-period analysis along the lines stated by Sraffa became widely accepted, and were particularly strongly promoted in George Stigler’s inﬂuential assessments of Marshall’s work. 23 The persistence of these characterisations is further captured in the following summary of popular renditions of ‘Marshall’s theory’: By the time he published the ﬁrst edition of his Principles, Marshall had formulated an ingenious theoretical solution to the problem of reconciling increasing returns and competition within the framework devised by Cournot.
It is the geometry of the supply and demand curves that is shown to be inadequate for conveying a method of analysis which, if considered in its entirety, emerged untouched by criticisms that go no further than the ﬂaws in the expository form. (Dardi 2003: 101) Dardi portrays Marshall’s partial equilibrium as ‘comparing certain states of things with the sinks of a dynamic system’, being representative of the ‘stability area surrounding an ideal stationary state’. In this setting a system can initially be viewed as being in a steady state, and then disturbed by an unexpected event, leading to adaptations (or innovations) to novelty.
Value theory, the domain of pure theory, had therefore become completely divorced from explanations of industry organisation and economic transformation. This was noticeably evidenced in the ‘empty economic boxes’ debates of the early1920s, where in his responses to John Clapham and Dennis Robertson, Pigou (1922, 1924) insisted on the need for a clear distinction to be made between the analytical requirements of value theory and the more ‘practical questions’ concerned with relating theoretical concepts to actual industrial conditions.