Institutions and Evolution of Capitalism
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Institutions and Evolution of Capitalism

Essays in Honour of Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Edited by Francesca Gagliardi and David Gindis

In just over 30 years, Geoff Hodgson has made substantial contributions to institutional economics, evolutionary economics, economic methodology, the history of economic thought and social theory. To mark his seminal work, this volume brings together original contributions by world-leading scholars in specific areas that have played a significant role in influencing his thinking or represent key debates to which he has contributed. Building on some of the most significant philosophical and methodological foundations underlying Hodgson's work, the volume is organised around the recurring themes of institutions, evolution and capitalism.
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Chapter 15: Generalized Darwinism, the nature of selection and market efficiency

J.W. Stoelhorst

Abstract

While earlier evolutionary thinking in economics interpreted selection as a competitive process driven by scarcity, akin to Charles Darwin’s idea of struggle for survival, modern evolutionary economics recognizes, as Darwin had noted, that selection also operates at the group level. By contrast, the idea of sexual selection, which Darwin used to explain why traits that are wasteful from the point of view of survival selection may nonetheless evolve, has thus far been overlooked. The chapter demonstrates how, within the group selection context of the firm, the causal logic of sexual selection is relevant, and why this provides a good reason to reject Milton Friedman’s claim that market efficiency implies that firms maximize profits. Specifically, it is likely that the bottom-up process of mutual preference selection between firms and their employees results in organizational cultures that overshoot their functionality in terms of efficiency in product markets.

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