François Perroux

Perroux, François


Born Dec. 12, 1903, in Lyons. French economist; representative of the sociological school in bourgeois political economy.

Since 1928, Perroux has been a professor of political economy at higher educational institutions in Lyons and Paris. He is the founder and director of a number of economic research institutes. Perroux’s idealist world view combines the ideas of moralizing Christianity, Saint-Simonism, the modern sociological theory of institutions, and technocratic pragmatism.

Perroux’s economic theory includes the principles of the dominating economy, harmonized growth, and the universal economy. According to Perroux, the effect of domination, which consists of a change in the substance and forms of relations between economic units, leads to a polarization of space around a sector pole of growth in which the economic units behave as parts of a single whole (the macrounit). As a result, spontaneous “aggressive” competition disappears, and the overall efficiency of actions of partners increases. The logic of evolution of the dominating economy impels the state to follow an anticyclical policy and to draw up long-term programs that will generate economic development at maximum rates (harmonized growth). This harmonization is achieved by social dialogue, leading to a consensus among entrepreneurs, workers, consumers, and others on programs of development. The goal of harmonized growth, according to Perroux, is to transform present capitalist society into a society of social harmony, an ideal encompassed by the concept of the universal economy. In such a society, not only the growth rate and structure of production but even the basic principles of organization of the economy and society (social rules, legal institutions, and the like) will be subordinate to the requirement of maximum economic rationality.

Perroux’s approach to many problems is contradictory. He shifts from condemnation to justification of monopolies, and his idealistic conception of a society of social harmony coexists with pragmatic recommendations for a policy of strict control of wages and limitation of the consumer demands in the interests of lowering production costs. His critique of society is limited to proposals to “improve” capitalism. Perroux’s theory serves to justify the policy of French bourgeois reformism and social manipulation and promotes illusions concerning the possibility of building a society of abundance and justice on the basis of state-monopoly capitalism.


Capitalisme et communauté de travail. Paris [1938].
Le Néo-marginalisme. Paris, 1941.
La Valeur. Paris, 1943.
Liberalisme et liberté. Paris, 1946.
La Coexistence pacifique. Paris, 1958.
La Capitalisme [4th ed]. Paris, 1960.
L’Économie du XX siècle. Paris, 1961.
Les Techniques quantitatives de la planification. Paris, 1965.
Economie et société. Paris, 1969.