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Multilevel Population Thinking The History and the Use of the Concept in Economics

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  • Natalia Zinovyeva

Abstract

The concept of multilevel population thinking suggests looking at evolution of any system of entities as at a multilevel process with selection forces operating on populations of units as well as on populations of groups of these units. The concept has allowed explaining some phenomena in biological evolution, but it has not deserved much attention from the majority of adopters of evolutionary theory in economics. There are many reasons for that, and some of them are definitely related to the weakness of the theoretical base developed for studying the statistical properties of complex evolving systems. Moreover, the formal tools already developed to support the concept, being not enough general to describe coexistence of evolutionary processes along the diverse complex structures, unfortunately tend to narrow the generality of the approach. This essay aims to review the history of the development of the idea of multilevel population thinking, to look at the applications of the approach in economics, and to give a critical view on the formal tool, namely, the Price’s equation, that has become common to economists, who analyze complex evolutionary structures.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 04-08.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:04-08

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Keywords: Biological analogy in economics; multilevel selection; Price’s equation.;

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  1. Foster, John, 1997. "The analytical foundations of evolutionary economics: From biological analogy to economic self-organization," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 427-451, October.
  2. Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 2002. "Evolutionary Theorizing in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 23-46, Spring.
  3. Sydney Winter & Giovanni Dosi, 2000. "Interpreting Economic Change: Evolution, Structures and Games," LEM Papers Series 2000/08, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  4. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-71, September.
  5. Richard R. Nelson, 1995. "Recent Evolutionary Theorizing about Economic Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 48-90, March.
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