Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Freedom Versus Coercion in Industrial Ecology: A Reply to Boons


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I have published many articles arguing that industrial and inter-firm recycling was widespread before 1900 and overwhelmingly the result of market forces. Treating my papers to 2005, Frank Boons (2008) challenges those conclusions. He also criticizes me for neglecting structural, cultural, and political considerations. As a result, he suggests, my case on behalf of free enterprise as the preferred coordinating arrangement to stimulate inter-firm recycling is untenable. In this article I reply to Boons and treat related work by business historian Christine Meisner Rosen. I stand by my earlier claims and support them with additional evidence. I then provide short critiques of Boons’s other arguments, evidence, and interpretations.