Integrating Economic and Organization Theory
Edited by Anna Grandori
Chapter 10: Exaptation in innovation processes: theory and models
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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