Strategic Management Review > Vol 5 > Issue 1-2

Edith T. Penrose: Economist of 'The Ordinary Business of Life'

Jason M. Pattit, Opus College of Business, University of St. Thomas, USA, , Katherina G. Pattit, Herberger Business School, St. Cloud State University, USA, , J.-C. Spender, Kozminski University, Poland,
Suggested Citation
Jason M. Pattit, Katherina G. Pattit and J.-C. Spender (2024), "Edith T. Penrose: Economist of 'The Ordinary Business of Life'", Strategic Management Review: Vol. 5: No. 1-2, pp 51-74.

Publication Date: 08 Apr 2024
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Corporate strategy,  Knowledge, innovation, and technology,  Organization and strategy
Penrose's language of the firmthe theory of the growth of the firmbusiness ethics


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In this article:
ETP's Formative Years 
The ToF Literature in the Early-1950s 
Developing Her Own Language 
Understanding ETP's New Language 
The Invisible College 
The Separation 
Concluding Comments 


When Edith T. Penrose became Fritz Machlup's student in the late-1940s, she found little in mainstream or Austrian economics to guide her as she began her explorations into the growth of the firm. While she acknowledged Kenneth Boulding's influence on her work, we suspect she drew on a broader tradition that includes, among others, Alfred Marshall, Frank Knight (Boulding's teacher), and Ronald Coase. We seek to demonstrate Penrose's connection to this 'invisible college', particularly to Knight, and its influence on her investigation of the growth of the firm. Given mainstream economists' pursuit of rigor at the expense of practical relevance and their continuing inattention to Coase's work, we suggest Penrose's work on the growth of the firm can be understood as part of a broader tradition represented by this 'invisible college', leading to useful new insights for business strategy and business ethics scholarship.



Strategic Management Review, Volume 5, Issue 1-2 Special Issue in Honor on Edith Penrose and The Theory of the Growth of the Firm
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.