Mark Packard: How to Put Time on Your Side
Entrepreneurial action occurs in time. This brings uncertainty, because of continuous change. We can’t know what will be our future result, yet we must produce now in order to discover it. Are there answers to this conundrum? Yes. They’re found in action, and the timing of action (see Mises.org/E4B_135_PDF1). Mark Packard joins the Economics For Business podcast to share his research.
Kay Takeaways and Actionable Insights
There are three ways we can think about time.
Eternalism: Time goes back in the past to infinity and forward in the future to infinity. It’s a real thing, e.g., we can identify “points” in time. This is the time of physics.
Presentism: Past time does not exist, it is a memory pattern; the future is undetermined, it’s just a mental image. The only time that exists, and is real, is now. This is the time of Austrian economics.
Growing tree: The past is real, it has been determined, and there is one real historical truth (think roots and branches). The present is real and unfolding (new leaves growing every day). The future is undetermined.
Presentism is the view of time that best aligns with Austrian entrepreneurship and subjectivism. Entrepreneurs act based on their own sense of time, which can be both objective (the clock is ticking) and subjective (how I act in time and how I feel about it).
Entrepreneurial action occurs in time, which brings uncertainty.
Why must entrepreneurs deal with uncertainty? Because production takes time, and there is continuous change, so the outcomes of the production process in the future can’t be known. Even if the entrepreneur knows what demand is today, it can change over time, and can’t be known in the future. Businesses choose entrepreneurial action long before they know how it is going to turn out. Entrepreneurial uncertainty is a consequence of the existence of time.
Time is scarce, but it’s not a resource.
We can legitimately refer to time as being scarce. We often feel as though there is not “enough” of it. We’d like to be able to try to pack more effort and action into the time available to us.
When we talk in terms of scarcity, it’s tempting to think that time is a resource, akin
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