Handbook of Economic Organization
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Handbook of Economic Organization

Integrating Economic and Organization Theory

Edited by Anna Grandori

This comprehensive and groundbreaking Handbook integrates economic and organization theories to help elucidate the design and evolution of economic organization. Economic organization is regarded both as a subject of inquiry and as an emerging disciplinary field in its own right, integrating insights from economics, organization theory, strategy and management, economic sociology and congnitive psychology. The contributors, who share this integrated approach, are distinguished scholars at the productive peak in their fields. Each original, state-of-the art chapter not only addresses foundational issues, but also identifies key issues for future research.
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Chapter 10: Exaptation in innovation processes: theory and models

Giovanni Bonifati and Marco Villani


In this chapter we present a contribution to a theory of exaptation phenomena in innovation processes. We first define exaptations and discuss some related conceptual issues. In order to contribute to the development of an exaptation-based view in the economics of innovation, in the remaining sections we propose a theoretical framework and simulation models for the study of the processes of exaptation. We relate exaptation phenomena at different levels of organization and provide a framework for their analysis. Next we argue that in innovation theory an exaptation-based perspective can be considered, at least potentially, an alternative to the ‘adaptation through selection’ perspective. We then represent and clarify the theory presented above, by means of two agent-based simulation models. In the first model, exaptation occurs through the exchange of artefacts and information between two agents. In the second model many agents are producers and consumers of thousands of artefacts and are able to introduce innovations. The latter model is explicitly designed to simulate the emergence of recurrent patterns of interactions, and their changes, as consequence of locally introduced innovations. A final section concludes the chapter.

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