Front Page Titles (by Subject) H. J. Davenport - Cost and Choice: An Inquiry in Economic Theory, Vol. 6 of the Collected Works
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H. J. Davenport - James M. Buchanan, Cost and Choice: An Inquiry in Economic Theory, Vol. 6 of the Collected Works 
The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Foreword by Geoffrey Brennan, Hartmut Kliemt, and Robert D. Tollison, 20 vols. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999-2002). Vol. 6 Cost and Choice: An Inquiry in Economic Theory.
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H. J. Davenport
Herbert J. Davenport was an American economist and, roughly, a contemporary of Wicksteed. His influence was limited to a relatively small group of followers, none of whom were major figures in the history of doctrine. Davenport’s insights on opportunity cost, however, if read from the perspective developed in this book, suggest that it is appropriate to place his name between that of Wicksteed and Knight in this summary review.
Davenport’s emphasis was on what he called “entrepreneur’s cost,” and he clearly defined this in a utility dimension. “That is to say, cost as a margin determinant is purely a matter within the personal aspects of entrepreneurship, a managerial fact, a subjective phenomenon, in which all the influences bearing on the psychology of choice between different occupations and leisure have their place.”6 Furthermore, Davenport explicitly recognized that cost is related to the particulars of the choice situation, and, indeed, his emphasis on entrepreneur’s cost stemmed from his criticism of other writers, notably Marshall, who confused this with what Davenport called “collectivist cost.”7
Embedded in Davenport’s treatise, Value and Distribution, is a conception of opportunity cost that is almost as sophisticated as that developed by Wicksteed. The failure of Davenport’s ideas to have more influence than they did have was due, apparently, to his failure to articulate these ideas and also perhaps to his petulance toward the idols of the profession in his time. Davenport would have surely come into his own had he been able to criticize the more flagrant confusions in cost theory that emerged only after the 1920’s.8
[6. ]Herbert J. Davenport, Value and Distribution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1908), p. 273.
[7. ]See esp. ibid., p. 404.
[8. ]For a summary of the history of cost theory in which Davenport’s ideas are prominently featured, see Bob M. Keeney, “The Evolution of Cost Doctrine” (Mimeographed, Midwestern Economics Association, November 1967).