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How Useful Is Universal Darwinism as a Framework to Study Competition and Industrial Evolution?

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  • G. Buenstorf

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Abstract

The adequate role of Darwinist concepts in evolutionary economics has long been a contentious issue. The controversy has recently been rekindled and modified by the position of "Universal Darwinism", most prominently favored by Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen. They argue that the ontology of all evolutionary systems accords to the basic Darwinist scheme of variation, selection and inheritance. This paper focuses on the emerging application of the Universal Darwinist framework to the analysis of market competition and industrial evolution and gauges its usefulness for organizing an evolutionary approach to industrial economics. Drawing on both a theoretical discussion and recent empirical findings, it argues that selection and inheritance concepts narrowly construed after the biological example are of limited help in studying markets and industries. As an alternative to the 'top-down' approach of Universal Darwinism, 'bottom-up' causal theories are suggested that explain how the interplay of descent, experience and learning shapes the competitive performance of firms in the evolution of industries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2005-02.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2005-02

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Keywords: Universal Darwinism; routines; pre-entry experience; spinoffs; descent;

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  1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521684156 is not listed on IDEAS
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  4. Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Knudsen, Thorbjorn, 2006. "Why we need a generalized Darwinism, and why generalized Darwinism is not enough," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 1-19, September.
  5. Giovanni Dosi & Luigi Marengo & Giorgio Fagiolo, 2003. "Learning in Evolutionary Environments," LEM Papers Series, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy 2003/20, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
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  9. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2002. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to ontology," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 259-281.
  10. Guido Buenstorf & Steven Klepper, 2005. "Heritage and Agglomeration: The Akron Tire Cluster Revisited," Papers on Economics and Evolution, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography 2005-08, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  11. Constance E. Helfat & Marvin B. Lieberman, 2002. "The birth of capabilities: market entry and the importance of pre-history," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 725-760, August.
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  13. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography 2006-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  14. Rosenberg, Nathan, 1969. "The Direction of Technological Change: Inducement Mechanisms and Focusing Devices," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 1-24, Part I Oc.
  15. G. Buenstorf & S. Klepper, 2004. "The Origin and Location of Entrants in the Evolution of the U.S. Tire Industry," Papers on Economics and Evolution, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography 2004-07, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  16. J.S Metcalfe, 2004. "Accounting for Evolution: An Assessment of the Population Method," Papers on Economics and Evolution, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography 2004-21, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  17. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2006. "The nature and units of social selection," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 477-489, December.
  18. Buchanan, James M. & Vanberg, Viktor J., 1991. "The Market as a Creative Process," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 167-186, October.
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  20. V. J. Vanberg, 2004. "Human Intentionality and Design In Cultural Evolution," Papers on Economics and Evolution, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography 2004-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  21. Christian Cordes, 2004. "Darwinism in Economics: From Analogy to Continuity," Papers on Economics and Evolution, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography 2004-15, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
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Cited by:
  1. Brunk, Gregory G. & Hunter, Kennith G., 2008. "An ecological perspective on interest groups and economic stagnation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 194-212, February.

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