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A group selection perspective on economic behavior, institutions and organizations

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  • van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M.
  • Gowdy, John M.

Abstract

This article examines the role of group dynamics and interactions in explaining economic behavior and the evolution of institutions. Our starting point is the large literature on group selection in the biological, behavioral and social sciences. We present a range of interpretations of group selection, describe a complete set of group selection mechanisms, and discuss the empirical and experimental evidence for group selection. Unique features of cultural group selection are investigated, and opportunities for applying the latter to various areas of economic theory and economic policy are identified.

Suggested Citation

  • van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M. & Gowdy, John M., 2009. "A group selection perspective on economic behavior, institutions and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 1-20, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:72:y:2009:i:1:p:1-20
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    Cited by:

    1. Gowdy, John M. & Dollimore, Denise E. & Wilson, David Sloan & Witt, Ulrich, 2013. "Economic cosmology and the evolutionary challenge," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 11-20.
    2. Alessandro Tavoni & Maja Schlüter & Simon Levin, 2010. "The Survival of the Conformist: Social Pressure and Renewable Resource Management," Working Papers 2010.127, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    3. Waring, Timothy M. & Goff, Sandra H. & Smaldino, Paul E., 2017. "The coevolution of economic institutions and sustainable consumption via cultural group selection," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 524-532.
    4. Foster, John, 2011. "Energy, aesthetics and knowledge in complex economic systems," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 88-100.
    5. Virgile Chassagnon, 2014. "Toward a Social Ontology of the Firm: Reconstitution, Organizing Entity, Institution, Social Emergence and Power," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 124(2), pages 197-208, October.
    6. Cordes, Christian & Richerson, Peter J. & Schwesinger, Georg, 2010. "How corporate cultures coevolve with the business environment: The case of firm growth crises and industry evolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 465-480, December.
    7. Safarzynska, Karolina & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2010. "Evolving power and environmental policy: Explaining institutional change with group selection," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 743-752, February.
    8. G. Marletto, 2013. "Car and the city: Socio-technical pathways to 2030," Working Paper CRENoS 201306, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    9. John Gowdy & Lisi Krall, 2014. "Agriculture as a major evolutionary transition to human ultrasociality," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 179-202, July.
    10. Christian Cordes & Peter Richerson & Georg Schwesinger, 2014. "A corporation’s culture as an impetus for spinoffs and a driving force of industry evolution," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 689-712, July.
    11. Kurt Dopfer, 2011. "Evolution and Complexity in Economics Revisited," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2011-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    12. Johnson, Dominic D.P. & Price, Michael E. & Van Vugt, Mark, 2013. "Darwin's invisible hand: Market competition, evolution and the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 128-140.
    13. Su, Tong-Yaa, 2016. "Competition between Firms in Economic Evolution: Its Characteristics and Differences to the Biological Sphere," MPRA Paper 72756, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. John M. Gowdy, 2010. "Behavioral economics, neuroeconomics, and climate change policy: baseline review for the garrison institute initiative on climate change," Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics 1010, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
    15. Gowdy, John & Krall, Lisi, 2013. "The ultrasocial origin of the Anthropocene," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 137-147.
    16. Safarzyńska, Karolina & Frenken, Koen & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2012. "Evolutionary theorizing and modeling of sustainability transitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1011-1024.
    17. Essletzbichler Jürgen, 2012. "Generalized Darwinism, group selection and evolutionary economic geography," Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, De Gruyter, vol. 56(1-2), pages 129-146, October.
    18. Marletto, Gerardo, 2014. "Car and the city: Socio-technical transition pathways to 2030," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 164-178.
    19. Safarzyńska, Karolina, 2013. "Evolutionary-economic policies for sustainable consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 187-195.
    20. Whittaker, Julie, 2011. "The evolution of environmentally responsible investment: An Adam Smith perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 33-41.
    21. Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh & Giorgos Kallis, 2009. "Evolutionary Policy," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2009-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Altruism Altruistic punishment Assortment Downward causation Functionalism Group formation Multilevel selection Other-regarding preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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