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A transdisciplinary perspective on economic complexity. Marshall's problem revisited

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  • Cassata, Francesco
  • Marchionatti, Roberto

Abstract

“Marshall's problem” consists in finding a way to integrate physics and biology into economics in order to represent a complex economic world. It is widely believed that Alfred Marshall was the first to address the issue, but he failed to integrate the two methodological approaches into economics. In particular the prevailing view is that Marshall was unable to follow through on his declaration that biology is the “Mecca” of economics. This paper reconsiders “Marshall's problem” by focusing on the intellectual connections among Darwin, Babbage and Marshall: it explores the relationship between Marshall's view of complexity as a dialectical mixing of routine and variation and reconstructs the development of a powerful intellectual model that we call the “evolutionary machine”.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 80 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 122-136

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:80:y:2011:i:1:p:122-136

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Marshall; Darwin; Babbage; Complexity; Transdisciplinarity;

References

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  1. Babbage, Charles, 1832. "Economy of Machinery and Manufactures," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number babbage1832.
  2. Marchionatti Roberto, 2002. "What don't economists know now that Marshall knew a century ago?," CESMEP Working Papers, University of Turin 200202, University of Turin.
  3. Rosser Jr., J. Barkley, 2010. "Is a transdisciplinary perspective on economic complexity possible?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 3-11, July.
  4. Raffaelli, Tiziano, 2007. "Marshall's Metaphors on Method," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(02), pages 135-151, June.
  5. Marshall, Alfred, 1890. "The Principles of Economics," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number marshall1890.
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  7. J. Stanley Metcalfe, 2007. "Alfred Marshall and the General Theory of Evolutionary Economics," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 15(1), pages 81-110.
  8. J. Stanley Metcalfe, 2010. "Complexity and emergence in economics: the road from Smith to Hayek (via Marshall and Schumpeter)," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 18(2), pages 45-76.
  9. Marchionatti Roberto, 2002. "Dealing with complexity Marshall and Keynes on the nature of economic thinking," CESMEP Working Papers, University of Turin 200201, University of Turin.
  10. Coase, Ronald H, 1975. "Marshall on Method," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 25-31, April.
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  12. Foster, John, 1993. "Economics and the Self-Organisation Approach: Alfred Marshall Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(419), pages 975-91, July.
  13. Young, Allyn A., 1928. "Increasing Returns and Economic Progress," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 38, pages 527-542.
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  15. Niman, Neil B., 2008. "Charles Babbage'S Influence On The Development Of Alfred Marshall'S Theory Of The Firm," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(04), pages 479-490, December.
  16. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2000. "The Contributions Of The Economics Of Information To Twentieth Century Economics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1441-1478, November.
  17. Rosser, J. Jr., 1992. "The dialogue between the economic and the ecologic theories of evolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 195-215, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Cedrini, Mario Aldo & Marchionatti, Roberto, 2013. "On the Theoretical and Practical Relevance of the Concept of Gift to the Development of a Non-Imperialist Economics," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers, University of Turin 201348, University of Turin.
  2. Antonelli Cristiano & Ferraris Gianluigi, 2012. "Endogenous knowledge externalities: an agent based simulation model where schumpeter meets Marshall," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201202, University of Turin.

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