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Complexity and emergence in economics: the road from Smith to Hayek (via Marshall and Schumpeter)


  • J. Stanley Metcalfe

    () (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research and Centre for Business Research Cambridge University)


The purpose or this essay is to make the connection between the idea of complexity and the work of four major economists, Smith, Marshall, Schumpeter and Hayek. The bridge is provided by innovation, in the form of emergent novelties, and the division of labour in the form of a system of parts and connections. A major role in complexity analysis is played by the uneven growth of knowledge, and by the rules which simultaneously establish economic order while generating challenges to the prevailing order in the form of invading innovations.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Stanley Metcalfe, 2010. "Complexity and emergence in economics: the road from Smith to Hayek (via Marshall and Schumpeter)," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 18(2), pages 45-76.
  • Handle: RePEc:hid:journl:v:18:y:2010:2:3:p:45-76

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert, Verónica & Yoguel, Gabriel, 2016. "Complexity paths in neo-Schumpeterian evolutionary economics, structural change and development policies," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 3-14.
    2. Antonelli, Cristiano, 2013. "The Economic Complexity of Innovation as a Creative Response," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201326, University of Turin.
    3. Cassata, Francesco & Marchionatti, Roberto, 2011. "A transdisciplinary perspective on economic complexity. Marshall's problem revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 122-136.
    4. repec:spr:joevec:v:27:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00191-017-0512-x is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Foster, John & Metcalfe, J. Stan, 2012. "Economic emergence: An evolutionary economic perspective," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 420-432.

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