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The Mystery of the Routine. The Darwinian Destiny of An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change

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  • Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Abstract

The three core Darwinian principles of variety, inheritance and selection are found in Nelson and Winter’s Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change (1982). Is the application of these core Darwinian principles purely analogical, or does it also relate to ontological communalities between social and biological evolution? Why do Nelson and Winter describe their theory as “Lamarckian” despite this strong Darwinian content? This “Lamarckian” inclination is related to their imperfect and inconsistent definitions of their core concept of “routine”. It is argued here that a routine must be treated as a genotype rather than a (behavioural) phenotype. Following Winter (1987), it is also argued that the use of Darwinian principles in economics relates to general features that are common to both social and biological systems. This permits consideration of the routine as a replicator in a broad Darwinian analysis. A definition of replication is taken from the recent literature on cultural evolution and applied to the key concepts of (individual) habit and (organisational) routine. An ontologically-grounded Darwinian and evolutionary economics leads us to a more detailed discussion of the mechanisms of replication, as well as the sources of variety and the processes of selection.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:recosp:reco_542_0355
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dermot Breslin, 2016. "What evolves in organizational co-evolution?," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 20(1), pages 45-67, March.
    2. Agnès Festré & Nathalie Lazaric, 2007. "Routines and leadership in Schumpeter and von Mises' analysis of economic change," Post-Print halshs-00271338, HAL.
    3. Ron A. Boschma & Jesse W.J. Weltevreden, 2005. "B2c e-commerce adoption in inner cities: An evolutionary perspective," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0503, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Feb 2005.
    4. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2006. "The nature and units of social selection," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 477-489, December.
    5. Markus C. Becker & Nathalie Lazaric & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 2005. "Applying organizational routines in understanding organizational change," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(5), pages 775-791, October.
    6. Christian Cordes, 2006. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to continuity," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 529-541, December.
    7. Khan, Haider, 2008. "Causal Depth: Aspects of a Scientific Realist Approach to Causal Explanation contra Humean Empiricism," MPRA Paper 8293, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2008.
    8. Khan, Haider, 2008. "Causal Depth contra Humean Empiricism: Aspects of a Scientific Realist Approach to Explanation," MPRA Paper 8297, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2008.
    9. Stańczyk-Hugiet Ewa, 2014. "Routines in the process of organizational evolution," Management, De Gruyter Open, vol. 18(2), pages 73-87, December.
    10. repec:oup:indcch:v:26:y:2017:i:4:p:727-743. is not listed on IDEAS
    11. G. Buenstorf, 2005. "How Useful Is Universal Darwinism as a Framework to Study Competition and Industrial Evolution?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2005-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    12. Martijn van der Steen, 2011. "The emergence and change of management accounting routines," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(4), pages 502-547, May.

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