Chapter 14: Economics in a Cultural Key: Complexity and Evolution Revisited
Kurt Dopfer 14.1 THE RISE OF EVOLUTIONARY ECONOMICS The last three decades have seen an upsurge in the number of publications addressing themes that have come to be grouped under the heading of ‘evolutionary economics’. In a recent bibliometric account comprising the abstracts of articles published in all economic journals over the past half-century, Sandra Silva and Aurora Teixeira have been documenting the impressive magnitudes and structural dynamic of this trend – a trend that has accelerated tremendously in the last two decades, considering that 90 per cent of this body of research is recorded as having been published after 1990 (Silva and Teixeira, 2009; EconLit database). There have been related accounts, emphasizing the interpretation and assessment of these trends, that have not shied away from a discourse about the general applicability and adequacy of the term ‘evolutionary’ itself (Dolfsma and Leydesdorff, 2010; Witt, 2008; Hanappi, 1994; Hodgson, 1993). In its paradigmatic outlook, the essential difference of evolutionary economics from the neoclassical mainstream is that it gives priority to dynamic rather than static analysis and, more specifically, puts behavioural, institutional, technological and other explanatory variables centre stage (rather than exogenous ones) when coping with dynamics. It was a great moment for the science of economics, and for evolutionary economics in particular, when the book by Richard Nelson and Sidney Winter entitled An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change appeared in 1982. In their trailblazing contribution, they set out two perspectives: a general one, addressing foundational issues, and a particular one, relating to...
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