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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

1 - Microeconomics: a way of thinking about business

from Book I - The market economy, overview and application

Summary

In economics in particular, education seems to be largely a matter of unlearning and “disteaching” rather than constructive action. A once famous American humorist observed that “it's not ignorance that does so much damage; it's knowin' so darn much that ain't so” … It seems that the hardest things to learn and to teach are things that everyone already knows.

Frank H. Knight

The late Frank Knight was a wise professor at the University of Chicago who realized that students beginning a study of economics, no matter the level – even those who are in advanced business programs – face a difficult task. They must learn many things in a rigorous manner that, on reflection and with experience, amount to common sense. To do that, however, they must set aside – or “unlearn” – many preconceived notions of the economy and of the course itself. The problem of “unlearning” can be especially acute for MBA students who are returning to a university after years of experience in industry. People in business rightfully focus their attention on the immediate demands of their jobs and evaluate their firms' successes and failures with reference to production schedules and accounting statements, a perspective that stands in stark contrast to the perspective developed in an economics class.

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