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Michael John ELLMAN


Michael John ELLMAN, economist in the field of Comparative Economic Systems; Socialist and Communist Economic Systems.


ELLMAN, Michael John was born in 1942 in Ripley, Surrey, England.


Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1966, 1972. Master of Science London School of Economies and Political Science, London, United Kingdom, 1965.


Lector Economics, Glasgow University, 1967-1969. Research Officer, Senior Research Officer, Department Applied Economics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1969-1975. Reader Economics, Amsterdam University, 1975-1978.

Visiting Professor Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands, 1983. Professor of Economics, University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1978-. Association Editor, Cambridge Journal of Economics.

Editorial Board, Matekon.


My work has ranged across the whole area of comparative economic systems, from welfare economics to Marxist-Leninist theory, from the Polish crisis of 1979-1982 to the crisis of the welfare state. My main contributions have concerned Soviet economic thought, planning techniques, economic reform under State Socialism, Marxist theory, the economics of the collectivisation of agriculture and the convergence theory. In my book and articles on Soviet economic thought (in particular the discussion of the 1960s about the use of mathematical methods), I provided a well documented internalist account of this development.

I also provided, however, unlike other Western commentators on this discussion, an externalist critique of the significance of this debate. Furthermore, I related the theoretical discussions to real planning problems and the ability (or otherwise) of mathematical methods to resolve them. My work on planning techniques made clear what input-output and linear programming can not do.

It also described where they are being used successfully to raise the efficiency of planning. My contribution to knowledge of economic reform consists of detailed empirical studies of attempted changes plus stress on economic reform as a matter of political and social choice. In my work on the economics of collectivisation, I argued that Soviet industrialisation was not financed by an increased transfer of surplus from the peasantry, but was financed mainly by ‘the selfexploitation of the working-class’.

In a widely referred to paper (and subsequent discussion), I criticised the Tinbergian variant of the convergence theory as misleading and harmful.