The Governance of Complexity
Edited by Kurt Dopfer
Chapter 14: Can Evolutionary Economics Make a Billion $ Difference for 60 Per Cent of the World’s Poor in Asia?
14. Can evolutionary economics make a billion $ diﬀerence for 60 per cent of the world’s poor in Asia? Hans-Peter Brunner* 1. THE POWER OF THE EVOLUTIONARY APPROACH The ﬁrst issue of the Journal of Evolutionary Economics (1991) featured prominent academics in the ﬁeld, such as Dosi, Boulding, and Eliasson among others, presenting and discussing key elements of an ‘evolutionary approach’. The key notions elaborated constitute a possible evolutionary approach to economic development. They are: irreversibility (history and path dependence); institutions; population; restructuring and ‘creative destruction’; disequilibrium and multiple equilibria; information and learning; innovation and entrepreneurship; non-average behaviour by economic agents; and, positive feedback mechanisms, linkages, and externalities. The discussion in this and other parts of the literature (Witt, 1992; Silverberg, 1994) does not provide a clear manifesto of evolutionary economics. The ability to diﬀerentiate evolutionary economics from neoclassical or other types of economic approaches is, however, considered of less importance when compared to the fruitfulness of such concepts in theoretical and empirical exploration of economic development phenomena (Adams, 1993; Witt, 2001b). The argument is not that neoclassical economics is wrong or unnecessary but that there are demonstrable advantages in using institutional and evolutionary concepts. ‘Fruitfulness’ means making a diﬀerence based on the evolutionary explanation of economic phenomena. Does the evolutionary approach have the power to make a diﬀerence, that is, to make a real and measurable diﬀerence, to people’s lives, in the poor, developing economies of Asia? This chapter explores and explains how key evolutionary...
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