Applied Evolutionary Economics and Complex Systems

Applied Evolutionary Economics and Complex Systems

Edited by John Foster and Werner Hölzl

This book takes up the challenge of developing an empirically based foundation for evolutionary economics built upon complex system theory. The authors argue that modern evolutionary economics is at a crossroads. At a theoretical level, modern evolutionary economics is moving away from the traditional focus of the operation of selection mechanisms and towards concepts of ‘complex adaptive systems’ and self-organisation. On an applied level, new and innovative methods of empirical research are being developed and considered. The contributors take up this challenge and examine aspects of complexity and evolution in applied contexts.

Chapter 7: An evolutionary approach to the theory of entrepreneurship

Thomas Grebel, Andreas Pyka and Horst Hanusch

Subjects: economics and finance, evolutionary economics


Thomas Grebel, Andreas Pyka and Horst Hanusch 1. INTRODUCTION Research on entrepreneurship has always been a controversial topic in economic theorizing. The significance of entrepreneurship is emphasized by almost all authors working on innovation economics; nevertheless, most of the research work comes to an end at a purely appreciative level. Still, a consistent theory of entrepreneurship is missing – a theory that is adequate to combine the various strands of literature in order to arrive at an empirically testable model, eventually. Apart from the early theories that approach entrepreneurship from a rather intuitive perspective, tracing back to Schumpeter (1911, 1939) and Kirzner (1973, 1999), a modern evolutionary approach should also contain some specific theories such as the theory of human capital (for example Schlutz 1975, social networks, for example Granovetter 1973) and neo-Schumpeterian economics (for example Loasby 1999). In this chapter we develop an eclectic approach by designing an analytical model that can be applied to different industries and historical settings. The core element of our model is the actors. Even though there are two opposing views that either explicitly focus on actors or take a more general approach in only emphasizing the actors’ environment, for our purposes we draw on the actor-centered perspective. Therefore, we do not look at actors from the perspective of situative determinism and optimal behavior, but we characterize individual actors as procedural rational, struggling in a trialand-error process for survival and prosperity. Consequently, in their entrepreneurial decision they do not know the potential...

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