Veblen, Thorstein Bunde

Veblen, Thorstein Bunde

(1857–1929) an American economist whose concern about the consequences of the uncontrolled growth of large companies was first expressed in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). Veblen recognized that companies could be useful instruments for organizing production but was concerned that large companies could be manipulated by managers so that the prosperity of business enterprises need not coincide with the welfare of the community. In the process of developing this thesis, Veblen attacked some of the materialist characteristics of the PRIVATE ENTERPRISE ECONOMY, which he labelled pecuniary emulation, conspicuous leisure and CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION.

Veblen was also interested in the process of economic development and suggested that advances in productivity brought about by technology would increase economic depression, exacerbating conflict between workers and management, on the one hand, and shareholders and the broader business community on the other. See also VEBLEN EFFECT.

Collins Dictionary of Economics, 4th ed. © C. Pass, B. Lowes, L. Davies 2005