In praise of small: Albert O. Hirschman and the question of scale

Jeremy Adelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper looks at the origins of Albert O. Hirschman's distinctive approach to economic development. It argues that Hirschman's style was the result of several, sequenced, influences. One was the impact of his brother-in-law, the Italian philosopher, Eugenio Colorni, who raised the curtain on a Renaissance approach to knowledge that privileged the importance of close observation. The second was an aversion to abstract theorizing, based in part on Hirschman's distaste for what "theory" produced in the 1930s and 1940s. Finally, the paper suggests that the experience of looking at development experiences from the ground up while living and working on Colombia in the 1950s was pivotal. Thus, it was set of conceptual, political, and empirical influences that molded the classic work, The Strategy of Economic Development (1958).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalResearch in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Colombia
  • Development
  • Foreign expert
  • Literature
  • Planning
  • Unbalanced growth


Dive into the research topics of 'In praise of small: Albert O. Hirschman and the question of scale'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this