Table of Contents

Handbook of Knowledge and Economics

Handbook of Knowledge and Economics

Elgar original reference

Edited by Richard Arena, Agnès Festré and Nathalie Lazaric

By illuminating the philosophical roots of the various notions of knowledge employed by economists, this Handbook helps to disentangle conceptual and typological issues surrounding the debate on knowledge amongst economists. Wide-ranging in scope, it explores fundamental aspects of the relationship between knowledge and economics – such as the nature of knowledge, knowledge acquisition and knowledge diffusion.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Richard Arena, Agnès Festré and Nathalie Lazaric

Subjects: economics and finance, evolutionary economics


Richard Arena, Agnès Festré and Nathalie Lazaric In 1937, Friedrich von Hayek wrote what was to become a very famous article, which was published in Economica, on the relations between economics and knowledge. It was admired by the economics profession, but its direct influence on economic theory at the time was limited. Fifty years later, with the emergence of the so-called ‘knowledge-based economy’, many of von Hayek’s preoccupations were revisited, and this has given birth to a large literature dedicated to the role of knowledge within economic relations. The economic reality questions the economic theory. The concept of the knowledge-based economy has generated a new ‘economics of knowledge’ or ‘economics of science’. This has prompted greater reflection on the notion of knowledge in analytical areas such as game theory, innovation theory, organization theory, firm theory, spatial economics and growth theory. However, it is not certain whether the numerous contributions on these issues have contributed to a better understanding of the key questions related to the notion of knowledge in economics. 1.1 THE MICROECONOMICS OF INFORMATION, KNOWLEDGE AND GENERAL ECONOMIC EQUILIBRIUM THEORY The research programme that dominated economic analysis for more than one hundred years – general economic equilibrium theory (GEET) – did not pay attention to the notion of knowledge, and instead focused on information. The argument put forward to justify this focus was that information could be measured. Information theory (see Shannon, 1948) emphasizes that information can and must be codified in order to be transmitted through a digital system....