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Veblen's Evolutionary Programme: A Promise Unfulfilled

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  • Rutherford, Malcolm

Abstract

This article examines in detail the way in which Veblen attempted to give theoretical expression to the program for an evolutionary economics that he outlined in methodological terms in his 1898 essay 'Why is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?' Veblen's conception of 'Darwinian' methodological principles led him to attempt to develop a theory of institutional evolution that was purely 'causal' in nature. This theory was never satisfactorily developed by Veblen. At base, his theory was one of new technology changing economic conditions, and new economic conditions leading to new ways of thinking and to new institutions through a (non-intentional) process of 'habituation.' Those who attempted to follow Veblen, such as Hoxie and Mitchell, found difficulties with the key aspects of this theory, and both men came to abandon it. Institutionalism in the interwar period is devoid of attempts to develop Veblen's theory, and Veblen's program remained a promise unfulfilled. Copyright 1998 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Rutherford, Malcolm, 1998. "Veblen's Evolutionary Programme: A Promise Unfulfilled," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(4), pages 463-477, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:22:y:1998:i:4:p:463-77
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    Cited by:

    1. Villena, Mauricio G. & Villena, Marcelo J., 2004. "Evolutionary Game Theory and Thorstein Veblen’s Evolutionary Economics: Is EGT Veblenian?," MPRA Paper 28889, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Bögenhold, Dieter & Michaelides, Panayotis G. & Papageorgiou, Theofanis, 2016. "Schumpeter, Veblen and Bourdieu on Institutions and the Formation of Habits," MPRA Paper 74585, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Olivier Brette, 2003. "Thorstein Veblen's theory of institutional change: beyond technological determinism," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 455-477.
    4. Theofanis Papageorgiou & Ioannis Katselidis & Panayotis G. Michaelides, 2013. "Schumpeter, Commons, and Veblen on Institutions," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 72(5), pages 1232-1254, November.
    5. Okoń-Horodyńska Ewa & Zachorowska-Mazurkiewicz Anna, 2015. "Innovation, Innovativeness And Gender - Approaching Innovative Gender," Scientific Annals of Economics and Business, De Gruyter Open, vol. 62(1), pages 1-22, April.
    6. Viano Francesca Lidia, 2002. "Guesswork and knowledge in evolutionary economics: verblen revisited," CESMEP Working Papers 200205, University of Turin.
    7. Christian Cordes, 2014. "There are several ways to incorporate evolutionary concepts into economic thinking," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2014-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    8. Valentinov, Vladislav, 2015. "From equilibrium to autopoiesis: A Luhmannian reading of Veblenian evolutionary economics," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 143-155.

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