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On the Spread of an Idea: The Strange Case of Mr. Harrod and the Multiplier

On the Spread of an Idea: The Strange Case of Mr. Harrod and the Multiplier History of Political Economy 32:2 (2000) for instance, provided an early formulation but overlooked its implications (Dimand 1997), and Keynes and Richard Kahn themselves needed almost two years to fully appreciate its significance. Harrod’s case, however, is even more puzzling. An intelligent reader, eager to understand the developments in the Keynesian field, he kept in regular contact with Keynes and his Cambridge followers. In 1932 Harrod had grasped the analytical properties of Kahn’s employment multiplier and was ready to apply it to foreign trade in the first edition of his book, International Economics (1933b). In 1933 he read Keynes’s articles on the multiplier principle, and in 1934 he and Kahn exchanged intense correspondence on its premises and main implications. However, unable to understand what was taking place, Harrod remained ignorant of the doctrine of effective demand until he read Keynes’s General Theory in proofs during the summer of 1935. The case of Harrod and the multiplier is interesting for two reasons. First, it provides an example of the lack of automatism in the diffusion and acceptance of scientific concepts and of the necessity that the recipient and proposer of an idea actively connect it to the intellectual tradition http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

On the Spread of an Idea: The Strange Case of Mr. Harrod and the Multiplier

History of Political Economy , Volume 32 (2) – Jun 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
DOI
10.1215/00182702-32-2-347
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

History of Political Economy 32:2 (2000) for instance, provided an early formulation but overlooked its implications (Dimand 1997), and Keynes and Richard Kahn themselves needed almost two years to fully appreciate its significance. Harrod’s case, however, is even more puzzling. An intelligent reader, eager to understand the developments in the Keynesian field, he kept in regular contact with Keynes and his Cambridge followers. In 1932 Harrod had grasped the analytical properties of Kahn’s employment multiplier and was ready to apply it to foreign trade in the first edition of his book, International Economics (1933b). In 1933 he read Keynes’s articles on the multiplier principle, and in 1934 he and Kahn exchanged intense correspondence on its premises and main implications. However, unable to understand what was taking place, Harrod remained ignorant of the doctrine of effective demand until he read Keynes’s General Theory in proofs during the summer of 1935. The case of Harrod and the multiplier is interesting for two reasons. First, it provides an example of the lack of automatism in the diffusion and acceptance of scientific concepts and of the necessity that the recipient and proposer of an idea actively connect it to the intellectual tradition

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Jun 1, 2000

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