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Sources Of Technical Change: Induced Innovation, Evolutionary Theory And Path Dependence

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  • Ruttan, Vernon W.

Abstract

The 1960s through the 1980s were very productive of new theory and empirical insight into the sources of technical change. In this paper I argue that each of the three approaches that have been advanced--induced technical change, evolutionary theory and path dependence--is approaching a dead end. The induced technical change process is driven by changes in the economic environment in which the firm (or public research agency) finds itself. But its internal mechanism, the learning and search process, remain inside a black box. The evolutionary model builds on the behavioral theory of the firm in an attempt to provide a more realistic description of the internal workings of the black box. The strength of the path dependence interpretation lies in the importance it places on the sequence of specific micro-level historical events. But it holds only for network technologies characterized by increasing returns to scale--and only until the increasing returns have been exhausted. The three approaches should be regarded as components of a more general theory of the sources of technical change. In the later section of the paper steps that might be taken toward the development of a more general theory of the sources of technical change are suggested.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center in its series Bulletins with number 12974.

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Date of creation: 1996
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Handle: RePEc:ags:umedbu:12974

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Keywords: Institutional and Behavioral Economics; Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies;

References

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  1. Fogel, Robert William, 1967. "The Specification Problem in Economic History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(03), pages 283-308, September.
  2. Freeman, Chris, 1994. "The Economics of Technical Change," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(5), pages 463-514, October.
  3. Winter, Sidney G., 1984. "Schumpeterian competition in alternative technological regimes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 287-320.
  4. Vernon, Raymond, 1979. "The Product Cycle Hypothesis in a New International Environment," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 41(4), pages 255-67, November.
  5. Foray, Dominique & Grubler, Arnulf, 1990. "Morphological analysis, diffusion and lockout of technologies: Ferrous casting in France and the FRG," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 535-550, December.
  6. Hayami, Yujiro & Ruttan, Vernon W., 1969. "Factor Prices And Technical Change In Agricultural Development: The United States And Japan, 1880-1960," Staff Papers 14172, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  7. John A. James & Jonathan S. Skinner, 1984. "The Resolution of the Labor Scarcity Paradox," NBER Working Papers 1504, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Nelson, Richard R & Winter, Sidney G, 1973. "Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Economic Capabilities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 440-49, May.
  9. Nordhaus, William D, 1973. "Some Skeptical Thoughts on the Theory of Induced Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 208-19, May.
  10. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  11. Olmstead, Alan L & Rhode, Paul, 1993. "Induced Innovation in American Agriculture: A Reconsideration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 100-118, February.
  12. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  13. Jason E. Christian, 1993. "The Simple Microeconomics of Induced Innovation," Industrial Organization 9312001, EconWPA.
  14. Richard R. Nelson, 1995. "Recent Evolutionary Theorizing about Economic Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 48-90, March.
  15. Stephen E. Margolis & S.J. Liebowitz, . "Path Dependence, Lock-in and History," Working Paper Series 10, North Carolina State University, Department of Economics.
  16. Herbert Simon & Lindsay McSweeney, 2010. "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 6.
  17. Nelson, Richard R & Winter, Sidney G, 1974. "Neoclassical vs. Evolutionary Theories of Economic Growth: Critique and Prospectus," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 84(336), pages 886-905, December.
  18. Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1975. "Factor Price Changes and Factor Substitution in an Evolutionary Model," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 6(2), pages 466-486, Autumn.
  19. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
  20. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-71, September.
  21. Nelson, Richard R & Winter, Sidney G & Schuette, Herbert L, 1976. "Technical Change in an Evolutionary Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 90-118, February.
  22. Liebowitz, S J & Margolis, Stephen E, 1990. "The Fable of the Keys," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 1-25, April.
  23. S. J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 1994. "Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 133-150, Spring.
  24. Joshua S. Gans & George B. Shepherd, 1994. "How Are the Mighty Fallen: Rejected Classic Articles by Leading Economists," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 165-179, Winter.
  25. Winter, Sidney G, 1971. "Satisficing, Selection, and the Innovating Remnant," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 237-61, May.
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