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Increasing returns: historiographic issues and path dependence

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  • Kenneth Arrow

Abstract

Writing a history of the analysis of increasing returns in economics is qualitatively different from the usual cumulative history of knowledge, as exemplified by the history of perfectly competitive analysis. The history of increasing returns is much less continuous. The reason for this irregular history lies, in my view, in the analytic nature of the subject. I concentrate on the recent history of the implications of increasing returns for path dependence in economic development. Foreshadowed by Veblen (1915) the topic was made explicit by Paul David in some theoretical analyses of topics in economic history (1971, 1975) and then by subsequent papers by David and by Brian Arthur in the 1980s. Contemporaneously, Farrell, Katz, Saloner, and Shapiro came to parallel conclusions in a very specific industrial organization context marked by network externalities.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

Volume (Year): 7 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 171-180

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Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:7:y:2000:i:2:p:171-180

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Related research

Keywords: Increasing Returns Path Dependence Cumulation Of Knowledge;

References

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  1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
  2. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1986. "Installed Base and Compatibility, With Implications for Product Preannouncements," Working papers 411, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1984. "Standardization, Compatibility and Innovation," Working papers 345, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
  5. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1986. "Technology Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 822-41, August.
  6. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1985. "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 424-40, June.
  7. Young, Allyn A., 1928. "Increasing Returns and Economic Progress," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 38, pages 527-542.
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Cited by:
  1. Zweynert, Joachim & Goldschmidt, Nils, 2005. "The Two Transitions in Central and Eastern Europe and the Relation between Path Dependent and Politically Implemented Institutional Change," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 05/3, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
  2. Zweynert, Joachim & Goldschmidt, Nils, 2005. "The Two Transitions in Central and Eastern Europe and the Relation between Path Dependent and Politically Implemented Institutional Change," HWWA Discussion Papers 314, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
  3. Leonhard Dobusch & Elke Schü�ler, 2013. "Theorizing path dependence: a review of positive feedback mechanisms in technology markets, regional clusters, and organizations," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 617-647, June.

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