16 april 2010

Loononderhandelingen door de ogen van econoom Frank Knight

uit F. Knight, Risk, uncertainty and profit, Boston, Hart, Schaffner & Marx, 1921, http://www.econlib.org/library/Knight/knRUPCover.html

III.IX.17 - The production-distribution system is worked out through offers and counter-offers, made on the basis of anticipations, of two kinds. The laborer asks what he thinks the entrepreneur will be able to pay, and in any case will not accept less than he can get from some other entrepreneur, or by turning entrepreneur himself. In the same way the entrepreneur offers to any laborer what he thinks he must in order to secure his services, and in any case not more than he thinks the laborer will actually be worth to him, keeping in mind what he can get by turning laborer himself. The whole calculation is in the future; past and even present conditions operate only as grounds of prediction as to what may be anticipated.

III.IX.18 - Since in a free market there can be but one price on any commodity, a general wage rate must result from this competitive bidding. The rate established may be described as the socially or competitively anticipated value of the laborer's product, using the term "product" in the sense of specific contribution, as already explained. It is not the opinion of the future held by either party to an employment bargain which determines the rate; these opinions merely set maximum and minimum limits outside of which the agreement cannot take place. The mechanism of price adjustment is the same as in any other market. There is always an established uniform rate, which is kept constantly at the point which equates the supply and demand. If at any moment there are more bidders willing to employ at a higher rate than there are employees willing to accept the established rate, the rate will rise accordingly, and similarly if there is a balance of opinion in the opposite direction. The final decision by any individual as to what to do is based on a comparison of a momentarily existing price with a subjective judgment of significance of the commodity. The judgment in this case relates to the indirect significance derived from a twofold estimate of the future, involving both technological and price uncertainties. The employer in deciding whether to offer the current wage, and the employee in deciding whether to accept it, must estimate the technical or physically measured product (specific contribution) of the labor and the price to be expected for that product when it comes upon the market. The estimation may involve two sorts of calculation or estimate of probability. The venture itself may be of the nature of a gamble, involving a large proportion of inherently unpredictable factors. In such a case the decision depends upon an "estimate" of an "objective probability" of success, or of a series of such probabilities corresponding to various degrees of success or failure. And normally, in the case of intelligent men, account will be taken of the probable "true value" of the estimates in the case of all estimated factors.

III.IX.19 - The meaning of the term "social" or "competitive" anticipation will now be clear. The question in the mind of either party to an employment agreement relates simply to the fact of a difference between the current standard of remuneration for the services being bargained for and his own estimate of their worth, discounted by probability allowances. The magnitude of the difference is altogether immaterial. The prospective employer may know absolutely that the service has a value to him ever so much greater than the price he is paying, but he will have to pay only the competitively established rate, and his purchase will affect this rate no more than if he were ever so hesitant about the bargain, just so he makes it. It is the general estimate of the magnitudes involved, in the sense of a "marginal" demand price, which fixes the actual current rate.

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