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Retirements 1983

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California Institute of Technology
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  • Feature Articles
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  • Economics
  • Political Science

Abstract

\ Retirements - 1983 Burton H. Klein Projessor oj Economics, Emeritus I N COLLEGE professors, the ability to concentrate on the matter at hand to the exclusion of all else sometimes leads to charges of absent-mindedness. In the case of Burt Klein, who became profes- sor of economics emeritus at Caltech this year, it has also led to a reputation for a probing, original, and perceptive approach to whatever problem he is zeroing in on. "You don't always agree with his conclusions," says his colleague Alan Sweezy, "but you never fail to get a lot of new ideas about the possibilities." One of Klein's conclusions is, for example, that industry needs to be more unstable, at least on the small-scale level of firms involved in all-out rivalry to dominate an active, technologically evolving field. That kind of instability, he says, produces a number of economic benefits, including large-scale stability in the economy as a whole. Klein is partic- ularly interested in the economics of innovation and how it is related to or- ganizational structure. He feels that many American organizations have become so stable that they have ossified. In explanation of his theories he has written a number of books, most re- cently Dynamic Economics and The Slowdown in Productivity Advances: A Dynamic Explanation. Klein received both his AB and his PhD from Harvard, was a staff member 24 ENGINEERING & SCIENCE / SEPTEMBER 1983 of the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1948 to 1952, and then joined RAND Corporation. He became head of RAND's economics department in 1961, and came to Caltech in 1967. In addition he has served as a consultant to the Council of Economic Advisers, the Bureau of Budget, the Disarmament Agency, the Brookings Institution, and the Swedish and Israeli governments. A project that interests him currently is making a study of the differences be- tween American and Japanese industry and productivity. _Heinz Lowenstam Professor oj Pa

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