J.A. Hobson and American Institutionalism: Underconsumption and Technological Change

  • Malcolm Rutherford


Although the existence of a relationship between J.A. Hobson and American institutionalism has often been noted, only a few of its aspects have been examined in any depth. Veblen’s influence on Hobson has been recognised,1 and it is well known that Hobson expended many efforts to develop an English audience for Veblen’s work (Brailsford 1948; Minchinton 1959; Allett 1981). In his own writings, Hobson utilised ideas taken from Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) and The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904). Indeed, Hobson eagerly awaited the publication of the latter book and immediately incorporated some of Veblen’s arguments concerning business capitalisation and the activities of financiers into the revised (1906) edition of his Evolution of Modern Capitalism. It is also worth noting that Hobson saw in America a ‘model of advanced capitalism’ (Allett 1981, p. 30), and throughout his career Hobson paid close attention to the latest in American economic investigation.


Business Cycle Technological Change American Institutionalism Business Enterprise Overhead Cost 
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© John Pheby 1994

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  • Malcolm Rutherford

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