New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series
Edited by Lars Magnusson and Jan Ottosson
1 Lars Magnusson and Jan Ottosson I The notion of path dependence has been discussed and utilized in various social sciences during the past two decades. The increasing interest in institutions and economic growth has certainly been important in this respect. Also, the role of technology as well as the discussion of various heterodox aspects of economic evolution might also be mentioned. More specifically, the rise of historical institutionalism and the interest in institutionalism in several social sciences has led to a number of applications of path dependence in various social sciences. As Gartland (2005, p. 687) rightly observes, there seem to be several applications of path dependence in various social sciences outside economics, but relatively few references among economists towards other social science’s application of this concept. We can see two dangers with this development. First, the rising number of empirical applications might lead to an uncritical use of the notion of path dependence. Second, we agree with Gartland that the ignorance among some economists to acknowledge important research regarding path dependence in other social sciences might lead to two parallel discussions. In relation to Hodgson’s argument (1993) regarding the risk of economic imperialism into other social sciences, we believe that all social sciences – including economics – might gain from current discussions of path dependence broadly illuminated from various angles. Therefore it seems appropriate to further discuss the topic of path dependence from various aspects in this Edward Elgar Companion on path dependence. The aim of this volume is therefore...