Albert Hirschman was one of the most influential development economists in the last 50years. As he passed away yesterday, it is important to remember that his years in Colombia helped shape both Colombian development policy and his classic The Strategy of Economic Development.
Jeremy Adelman reminds us:
The experience gained during his stay in Colombia, where he participated in government missions across the country, enabled him to design a research method based on actual observations of what people actually did, contrary to the views raised by orthodox standards based on what people ought to do.
His criticism of economic development planning, based on balanced growth, raised the development strategy not as a necessary condition to overcome the shortage of factors but as a need to improve the ability of individuals to make decisions.
His observations of everyday life in Colombia provided him the evidence that problems were solved in practice and allowed him to generate strategies to facilitate the solution of problems based on the economic agents.