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The Ordering of Change: Polanyi, Schumpeter and the Nature of The Market Mechanism

  • Harvey Mark

    (University of Manchester)

  • Metcalfe Stan

    (University of Manchester)

This paper brings about a conversation between Schumpeterian and Polanyian perspectives on markets and their central role in the capitalist economy. For Schumpeter, markets were critical to the process of selftransformation of economic activity, but in his vision, markets as such were largely taken for granted. Markets enabled the introduction of new processes and products equally as well as rendering economic activities obsolete, with the entrepreneur and firm as agents of change, generating new combinations of activities and driven by the creative power of knowledge. Innovation and markets are jointly the engines of endogenous growth. For Karl Polanyi, by contrast, although markets were the central feature of the capitalist economy from the beginning of the nineteenth century, his main interest is the constant impulse for markets as institutions to expand into every aspect of social life and the countermovement of regulation to restrain what he sees as their essentially destructive nature. His focus is therefore on markets as instituted economic processes, driven by the double movement of regulation (order) and de-regulation (disorder). He scarcely considers innovation in production or consumption, concentrating on institutions of exchange and distribution. The paper explores the two perspectives in order to ask the question that their confrontation raises: What is the relation between intra-market endogenous change and marketframework institutional change? To test out each perspective, a schematic “long-duration” empirical account of the United Kingdom food distribution markets is subjected to a Schumpeterian and Polanyian reading, and each is exposed for complementary deficits. A broader explanatory framework is sketched that proposes analysis of innovation in market institutions--especially processes exchange and distribution-- in combination with innovation in production and consumption. It is suggested that to explore the constant change of capitalist economies, these four economic domains each involve different orders of innovation and transformation that have complex feedbacks and interactions with each other. Rather than according primacy to one or other order of change (as did Schumpeter and Polanyi in their respective ways), we require a complex causal account embracing multiple instituted economic processes.Cet article discute de la vision des marchés et de leur rôle central dans l’économie capitaliste selon Schumpeter et Polanyi. Pour Schumpeter, les marchés sont essentiels au processus d’auto transformation de l’activité économique, mais dans son approche il présuppose l’existence des marchés . Les marchés permettent l’introduction de nouveaux processus et produits et rendent en même temps les activités économiques obsolètes. Les marchés, avec l’entrepreneur et la firme comme agents du changement, créent de nouvelles combinaisons d’activités et sont dynamisés par le pouvoir créatif de la connaissance. L’innovation et les marchés sont conjointement les moteurs de la croissance endogène. Chez Karl Polanyi, en revanche, bien que les marchés soient un élément central de l’économie capitaliste dès le début du 19ème siècle, l’attention se porte sur le mouvement permament des marchés-institutions à s’étendre à tous les domaines de la vie sociale ainsi que sur le contre-mouvement de la régulation à limiter ce que Polanyi considère comme la nature destructrice des marchés. Son interêt se porte ainsi aux marchés comme des processus économiques établis, conduits par un double mouvement de régulation (ordre) et de dérégulation (désordre). Il ne considère que rarement l’innovation de production ou de consommation, et se concentre sur les institutions de l’échange et de la distribution.L’article explore les deux visions afin de sinterroger sur ce que la confrontation des approches soulève comme question: Quelle est la relation entre les changements endogènes intra marché et les changements institutionnels de la structure de marché? Pour tester chacune des visions, un compte-rendu empirique sur longue période de la distribution alimentaire au Royaume-Uni est soumis à une lecture Schumpeterienne et Polanyienne.Un cadre explicatif plus large est esquissé et suggère une analyse de l’innovation des institutions de marché - particulièrement des processus d’échange et de distribution - conjointement à l’innovation de production et de consommation. Il est suggéré que pour analyser le changement permanent des économies capitalistes, il faut considérer les ordres d’innovation et de transformation de ces quatres domaines économiques qui connaissent des “effets de retour” ainsi des interactions. Au lieu d’accorder la primauté à un des ordres de changement (ce que Schumpeter et Polanyi ont fait), il est nécessaire de rendre compte d’une causalité complexe qui prend en compte des processus économiques multiples.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

Volume (Year): 14 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (December)
Pages: 1-31

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:14:y:2004:i:2:n:6
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