Albert O. Hirschman (* 7 April 1915 in Berlin as Otto-Albert Hirschmann; † 10 December 2012 in Ewing Township, New Jersey) emigrated to France in 1933 and received diplomas from both the Sorbonne in 1934 and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in 1935.
After receiving a doctorate in economics from the University of Trieste in 1938, he worked as an economist in Paris, joined the French army in 1939 and the Resistance after its defeat.
In 1941 Hirschman emigrated to the United States, where he first worked at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1946 to 1952, he was an advisor to the American Federal Bank and was entrusted with reconstruction work in Western Europe and with development policy projects in Colombia. From 1952 to 1974, he taught and conducted research at Yale, Columbia and Havard Universities.
He was Professor of Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University from 1974. By then, he had been awarded ten honorary doctorates, from universities in Europe as well as in North and South America. Hirschman has also received significant awards and high honours. Mention should be made of "The Frank E. Seidman Distinguished Award in Political Economy" (1980), "The Talcott Parsons Prize in Social Science" of the American Academy of Arts and Science (1983) and "The Distinguished Fellowship" of the American Economic Association (1984).
Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Albert O. Hirschman was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Trier on 7 December 1990.
The following research foci characterised the work of Albert O. Hirschman:
Foreign economic relations: in particular German imperialism in the 1920s and 1930s, the reconstruction of Europe within the framework of the Marshall Plan, and development strategies in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Organisational theory: In his book "Exit. Voice and Loyalty" (1970) deals with the question of how dissatisfaction with organisational performance translates into performance improvements; when the threat of churn or churn via the market is used; when more political forms of loyal criticism emerge - and how they can be encouraged in the interest of organisational self-preservation.
Another focus is the problem of the relevance of attitudes and views of social actors to real processes. "Passions and Interests Political Justifications of Capitalism before its Victory" (original 1977, Dt. translation 1980).
One of his more recent books dealt with the centuries-old stereotypical rhetoric of conservative and neo-conservative authors in favour of state abstinence and is another critique of over-simplification of economics.