Erich Zimmermann

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Erich Walter Zimmermann, resource economist, was born in Mainz, Germany, on July 31, 1888 and died in Austin, United States of America, on February 16, 1961. He was an economist at the University of North Carolina and later the University of Texas.

Zimmermann of the Institutional school of economics[1] called his real world theory the functional theory of mineral resources. His followers have coined the term resourceship to describe the theory.[2] Unlike traditional descriptive inventories, Zimmermann's method offered a synthetic assessment of the human, cultural, and natural factors that determine resource availability.

Zimmermann rejected the assumption of fixity. Resources are not known, fixed things; they are what humans employ to service wants at a given time. To Zimmermann (1933, 3; 1951, 14), only human "appraisal" turns the "neutral stuff" of the earth into resources.[3] What are resources today may not be tomorrow, and vice versa. According to Zimmermann, "resources are not, they become."[4]


  • “Resources of the South”, The South-Atlantic Quarterly (July 1933)
  • World Resources and Industries: A Functional Appraisal of the Availability of Agricultural and Industrial Resources (1933) New York: Harper & Brothers
  • World Resources and Industries, 2nd revised ed. (1951) New York: Harper & Brothers


  1. Phillips, Ronnie, ed. (1995). Economic Mavericks: The Texas Institutionalists,. Emerald Group Publishing. pp. 151–83. ISBN 978-1559384674.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Bradley Jr., Robert (22 October 2010). "Dear Peak Oilers: Please Consider Erich Zimmermann's 'Functional Theory' of Mineral Resources". MasterResource. Retrieved 14 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Bradley Jr., Robert L. (Fall 2004). "ARE WE RUNNING OUT OF OIL? - "FUNCTIONAL THEORY" SAYS NO". Property and Environment Research Center. Retrieved 14 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "ZIMMERMANN, ERICH WALTER". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 14 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>