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Evolutionary Theorizing in Economics

  • Richard R. Nelson
  • Sidney G. Winter

This paper reviews the case for an evolutionary approach to problems of economic analysis, ranging from the details of individual firm behavior in the short run through industrial dynamics to the historical evolution of institutions and technologies. We draw upon a substantial body of recent research contributions. We characterize micro behavior as governed by skills and routines that are shaped by learning and selection. We then consider major areas of application of evolutionary thinking, including the analysis of competitive processes in technologically dynamic industries and the evolution of institutions and technologies.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/0895330027247
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 16 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 23-46

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:16:y:2002:i:2:p:23-46
Note: DOI: 10.1257/0895330027247
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  1. Alfred D. Chandler, 1992. "Organizational Capabilities and the Economic History of the Industrial Enterprise," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 79-100, Summer.
  2. Nelson, Richard R, 1998. "The Agenda for Growth Theory: A Different Point of View," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(4), pages 497-520, July.
  3. Ericson, Richard & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82, January.
  4. Dan Lovallo & Colin Camerer, 1999. "Overconfidence and Excess Entry: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 306-318, March.
  5. Nelson, Richard R. & Winter, Sidney G., 1977. "In search of useful theory of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 36-76, January.
  6. Winter, Sidney G., 1984. "Schumpeterian competition in alternative technological regimes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 287-320.
  7. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870," NBER Chapters, in: Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870, pages 1-23 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Steven Klepper & Kenneth L. Simons, 2000. "The Making of an Oligopoly: Firm Survival and Technological Change in the Evolution of the U.S. Tire Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 728-760, August.
  9. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  10. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abra56-1, December.
  11. Pakes, Ariel & Ericson, Richard, 1998. "Empirical Implications of Alternative Models of Firm Dynamics," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 1-45, March.
  12. Winter, Sidney G, 1971. "Satisficing, Selection, and the Innovating Remnant," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 237-61, May.
  13. Massimo Warglien & Alessandro Narduzzo & Elena Rocco, 1997. "Talking about routines in the field: the emergence of organizational capabiliies in a new cellular phone network company," CEEL Working Papers 9706, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  14. Nelson, Richard R. & Sampat, Bhaven N., 2001. "Making sense of institutions as a factor shaping economic performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 31-54, January.
  15. Hodgson, Geoffrey M, 1994. "Optimisation and Evolution: Winter's Critique of Friedman Revisited," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 413-30, August.
  16. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
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