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Institutions and Progress

An insistent theme in Richard Nelson's work is that of "capitalism as an engine of progress". In this paper I explore this idea through a sequence of his writing, distinguishing progress as outcome from progress as instituted process. This leads to a deeper issue within this Nelsonian theme, namely the incompatibility between progress and equilibrium. I argue that evolving systems are ordered and coordinated but they are never in equilibrium. Capitalism is restless--it always generates change from within and the proximate source of this progressive tendency is the uneven accumulation of knowledge. Capitalism is restless because knowledge is restless. Copyright 2001 by Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Industrial & Corporate Change.

Volume (Year): 10 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 561-86

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Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:10:y:2001:i:3:p:561-86
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