Steve Boese shares Learn a New Word Thursday: Knightian Uncertainty

Steve Boese Steve Boese, Worldwide FOT

Welcome back to the latest installment of ‘Learn a new word Thursday’ where I share with you some small, but hopefully interesting and relevant word or concept that since it is new to me, must be new to (many of) you as well.

Submitted for your consideration today’s word/concept: Knightian uncertainty.

From your pals at Wikipedia:

In economics, Knightian uncertainty is risk that is immeasurable, not possible to calculate.

Knightian uncertainty is named after University of Chicago economist Frank Knight (1885–1972), who distinguished risk and uncertainty in his work Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit:

“Uncertainty must be taken in a sense radically distinct from the familiar notion of Risk, from which it has never been properly separated…. The essential fact is that ‘risk’ means in some cases a quantity susceptible of measurement, while at other times it is something distinctly not of this character; and there are far-reaching and crucial differences in the bearings of the phenomena depending on which of the two is really present and operating…. It will appear that a measurable uncertainty, or ‘risk’ proper, as we shall use the term, is so far different from an unmeasurable one that it is not in effect an uncertainty at all.”

Read the whole post over at Steve Boese’s HR Technology Journal (an FOT contributor blog).