The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography
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The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography

Edited by Ron Boschma and Ron Martin

This wide-ranging Handbook is the first major compilation of the theoretical and empirical research that is forging the new and exciting paradigm of evolutionary economic geography.
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Chapter 2: Generalized Darwinism and Evolutionary Economic Geography

Jürgen Essletzbichler and David L. Rigby


Jürgen Essletzbichler and David L. Rigby 1. Introduction Over the last few years evolutionary metaphors and concepts have become increasingly popular with economic geographers (Amin, 1999; Barnes, 1997; Boschma and Frenken, 2006; Boschma and Lambooy, 1999; Boschma and Van der Knaap, 1997; Essletzbichler, 1999; Essletzbichler and Rigby, 2005a, 2005b, 2007; Frenken, 2007; Frenken and Boschma, 2007; Grabher, 1993; Grabher and Stark, 1997; Hudson, 2001; Martin, 2000; Martin and Sunley, 2006, 2007; Rigby and Essletzbichler, 1997, 2006; Storper, 1997; Webber et al., 1992). For the most part, however, concepts such as path-dependence and lock-in have been deployed in a rather ad hoc fashion and the development of a broader evolutionary approach to economic geography has not progressed very far. Three major points of departure in the theoretical development of evolutionary economics are readily identified in economic geography, including complexity theory (Frenken, 2006; Martin and Sunley, 2007; Plummer and Sheppard, 2006), path- dependence (Martin and Sunley, 2006) and generalized Darwinism (Essletzbichler and Rigby, 2007; Rigby and Essletzbichler, 1997). Each of these approaches emphasizes different moments of the evolutionary process. Complexity theory focuses on the creation of variety, path-dependence stresses the retention of existing information and knowledge, and generalized Darwinism examines how a population of heterogeneous entities evolve through interaction among themselves and with the environment that they help shape. In this chapter we outline a general approach to economic geography based on generalized Darwinism. We focus on this approach because we believe that it is consistent with, yet more general than,...

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