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Evolutionary Economic Thought

European Contributions and Concepts

Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus

Evolutionary Economic Thought explores the theoretical roots of the evolutionary approach, and in so doing, demonstrates how it fits squarely into the theoretical mainstream. Focusing on the institutions of evolutionary change and the processes – such as competition – that generate change, this book takes account of important European contributions to the discipline, hitherto overshadowed by the American paradigm. As such, the book serves to broaden the current discourse. Whilst evolutionary economics itself is a well-researched and widely documented field, this book will be credited with establishing a history of evolutionary economic thought.
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Chapter 9: Gustav Schmoller: an evolutionary economist

Simon Duindam and Bernard Verstegen


Simon Duindam and Bernard Verstegen INTRODUCTION On 21 January 1995 Professor Fase reviewed a book on John Kenneth Galbraith in a Dutch newspaper, NRC-Handelsblad. In this article Fase stated: Economists appear in different species. Roughly speaking, there are two, maybe three main groups. On the one side you have those theoretical economists that were inspired by Marshall, Walras and Keynes. They have given the science great abstraction and academic prosperity, and are esteemed highly in their own scientific circles. A narrow, mostly formal manner of discussion is their trademark and academic security without much social anxiety with mutual high esteem a prominent characteristic. On the other side there is the visionary mainstream, inspired by the GermanAustrian organic descriptive, partly sociological-historical tradition. Its trademark is the living economic reality. In leading economic journals, you seldom see this approach, because contemporary academic fashion prefers no-risk puzzling to fantasy-filled reflection about great themes. In between lies the sympathetic island, inhabited by empirical and econometric workers. They are regarded with high esteem, although their work is often not regarded as the real reality. (Our translation) One of the most important economists in the German-Austrian tradition is Gustav Schmoller. To get a better view on his work and why he is also an important evolutionary economist, it is important to have a closer look at the personality of Schmoller and his way of thinking, a narrative of which can be found extensively in Hansen (1996). Gustav Schmoller (1838–1917) was born in the vicinity of...

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