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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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References

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  1. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-05, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  2. Guido Buenstorf & Steven Klepper, 2009. "Heritage and Agglomeration: The Akron Tyre Cluster Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(537), pages 705-733, 04.
  3. S. Klepper & S. Sleeper, 2002. "Entry by Spinoffs," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2002-07, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  4. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2004. "The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 281-307, 07.
  5. Giovanni Dosi & Luigi Marengo & Giorgio Fagiolo, 1996. "Learning in evolutionary environment," CEEL Working Papers 9605, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  6. Christian Cordes, 2006. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to continuity," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 529-541, December.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521684156 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. 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.
  9. 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 2004-07, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  10. Metcalfe, J S, 1994. "Competition, Fisher's Principle and Increasing Returns in the Selection Process," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 327-46, November.
  11. J.S Metcalfe, 2004. "Accounting for Evolution: An Assessment of the Population Method," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-21, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  12. 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, vol. 61(1), pages 1-19, September.
  13. Markus C. Becker, 2004. "Organizational routines: a review of the literature," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(4), pages 643-678, August.
  14. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2006. "The nature and units of social selection," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 477-489, December.
  15. V. J. Vanberg, 2004. "Human Intentionality and Design In Cultural Evolution," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-02, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  16. Steven Klepper, 2002. "The capabilities of new firms and the evolution of the US automobile industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 645-666, August.
  17. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2003. "The Mystery of the Routine. The Darwinian Destiny of An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 54(2), pages 355-384.
  18. Thorbj, rn Knudsen, 2002. "Economic selection theory," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 443-470.
  19. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2002. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to ontology," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 259-281.
  20. Rosenberg, Nathan, 1969. "The Direction of Technological Change: Inducement Mechanisms and Focusing Devices," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 1-24, Part I Oc.
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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, vol. 37(1), pages 194-212, February.

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