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Agnes Arndt

Abstract

Albert O. Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States (1970, in German 1974) deconstructs a stereotype of economic behavior that large parts of social sciences define and analyze as rational and goal-oriented. Hirschman confronts the image of a rational and efficient economy, constantly working towards maximizing output, with the fluctuation and deterioration of its performance. Exit and Voice constitute, according to Hirschman, the fundamental mechanisms available to counteract this tendency for performance decline. He introduces market and non-market forces into his analysis, thereby addressing both economic and political mechanisms, in order to advance the mutual recognition of both disciplines, which Hirschman deems insufficient. At the time of its publication, Hirschman’s study was appreciated for its cross-disciplinary approach. In the eyes of the author however, what grants the book current relevance is its analytical compatibility with devastating present-day problems.