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Space, Time, Number: Harold A. Innis as Evolutionary Theorist

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  • Leonard M. Dudley

Abstract

What causes economic change? Traditionally, economists have answered that the explanation lies in exogenous shocks to technology, factor stocks, or preferences. In the last half-decade of his career, the Canadian economic historian Harold Innis (1894-1952) proposed an alternative approach - a theory of endogenous change in communications technology. He argued that the principal developments in western social history could be explained by a process of alternation between media biased towards conservation of information over time and those biased towards transmission over distance. This paper demonstrates the close parallels between the concepts used by Innis and contemporary theories of social evolution. It also indicates the importance for future research of his vision of communications media as the most fundamental of enabling technologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Leonard M. Dudley, 1995. "Space, Time, Number: Harold A. Innis as Evolutionary Theorist," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(4a), pages 754-769, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:28:y:1995:i:4a:p:754-69
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cole, Harold L. & English, William B., 1991. "Expropriation and direct investment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3-4), pages 201-227, May.
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    6. Markusen, James R., 1984. "Multinationals, multi-plant economies, and the gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 205-226, May.
    7. Edwin Mansfield & Anthony Romeo, 1980. "Technology Transfer to Overseas Subsidiaries by U. S.-Based Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(4), pages 737-750.
    8. Wright, Donald J., 1993. "International technology transfer with an information asymmetry and endogenous research and development," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1-2), pages 47-67, August.
    9. Wilfred J. Ethier, 1986. "The Multinational Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 805-833.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dudley, Leonard, 1999. "Communications and economic growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 595-619, March.

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