There are two kinds of economists. On the one hand, there are those economists who discover something great and spend the whole of their professional careers repeating this important discovery; and on the other hand there are those who explore different areas after exhausting the implications of a certain field. With some justification we can refer to the former as hedgehogs and the latter as foxes. Now being a fox does not make one a "better" economist; it just makes one a different kind of economist. One can, after all, discover something "great" and have a very productive career reiterating this fundamental principle.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some economists that come to mind:
1. Those who Bask
- Paul Davidson, for his discovery of Keynes's liquidity preference and the essential properties of money;
- Israel Kirzner, for his discovery of the theory of entrepreneurship in market processes;
- Oliver Williamson, for his efforts in "operationalizing" the theory of transaction costs;
- Hyman Minsky, for his discovery of the "financial instability hypothesis;"
- G. L. S. Shackle - for his discovery of the importance of uncertainty in human decision-making.
2. Those who Grow
- F. A. Hayek, technical economic theory to psychology to political philosophy to monetary economics;
- Ludwig Lachmann, capital theory to human expectations to hermeneutics;
- Douglass North, instititutional structures to economic growth to the role of ideology;
- Frank Knight, for his many contributions to the social sciences, human behavior, and technical economic theory;
- Nicholas Kaldor, Hayek scholar to Keynes scholar to income distribution to economic growth.
What other economists come to mind, and where would you put them?