Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change
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Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change

Edited by Cristiano Antonelli

This comprehensive and innovative Handbook applies the tools of the economics of complexity to analyse the causes and effects of technological and structural change. It grafts the intuitions of the economics of complexity into the tradition of analysis based upon the Schumpeterian and Marshallian legacies.
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Chapter 1: The Economic Complexity of Technological Change: Knowledge Interaction and Path Dependence

Cristiano Antonelli


* Cristiano Antonelli 1. INTRODUCTION Complexity is emerging as a new unifying theory to understand endogenous change and transformation across a variety of disciplines, ranging from mathematics and physics to biology. Complexity thinking is primarily a systemic and dynamic approach according to which the outcome of the behavior of each agent and of the system into which each agent is embedded, is intrinsically dynamic and can only be understood as the result of multiple interactions among heterogeneous agents embedded in evolving structures and between the micro and macro levels. Different attempts have been made to apply complexity to economics, ranging from computational complexity to econophysics, connectivity complexity and bounded rationality complexity. Too often these attempts have missed the basic feature of economics that consists in the analysis of the role of the intentional, rent-seeking conduct in the interpretation of the behavior of agents. Agents are portrayed as automata that are not able to implement the intentional pursuit of their interest (Rosser, 1999, 2004). This Handbook presents a systematic attempt to show how, building upon the achievements of complexity theory, a substantial contribution to the economics of innovation can be implemented. At the same time it shows that an economic approach to complexity can be elaborated and fruitfully implemented. This introductory chapter articulates the view that innovation is the emergent property of a system characterized by organized complexity. It implements an approach that enables the provision of basic and simple economic foundations at the same time to analysing the outcome of the...

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