Evolutionary Economics

Evolutionary economics as a field is a very broad church, with many drawing on the seminal work of Joseph Schumpeter. However, in many of these works evolution is interpreted as a 'fancy word for change' (Greve, 2002), and evolutionary conceptualizations are not developed from fundamental theoretical evolutionary building blocks. Notable, exceptions however are the works of Nelson & Winter (1982), and numerous contributions from Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjorn Knudsen. The former authors put forward a conceptualization of organizational change in which the routine is seen as the gene of the firm. Hodgson & Knudsen tackle a number of core philosophical and conceptual fundamentals, which have since pathed the way for developments of a multi-level, complex, co-evolutionary account of socio-economic change (Hodgson & Knudsen, 2010). Hodgson and Knudsen have thus tackled a number of core questions in the broader development of an evolutionary theory of cultural change, including; the issue of Lamarckism, Generalized Darwinism, Replication and Selection.

Recommended Reading

Nelson, R. and Winter, S. (1982). Evolutionary Theory and Economic Change. Cambridge, MA: Bellknap.

Nelson and Winter's seminal work in many ways kick started the organizational evolutionary project. They put forward the routine as the key unit of selection, and draw on key behavioral ideas to develop a multi-level view of change within organizations.
Hodgson, G. and Knudsen, T. (2010). Darwin's Conjecture: the Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

This book summarises many of the key contributions of Hodgon & Knudsen over the past 10 years, in developing and moving forward the Generalized Darwinist project. They take the reader through the foundations of Generalized Darwinism, address many of the key sticking points, and proceed to present an evolutionary account of change in organizations.

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