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The Evolutionary Explanation of Total Factor Productivity Growth : Macro Measurement and Micro Process


  • J. Stanley Metcalfe


[fre] Cet article propose les voies selon lesquelles il est possible de renouveler l'analyse et l'explication de la croissance de la productivité au niveau global. Dans une perspective évolutionniste, les forces qui affectent les individus changent en réalité non ces individus mais la structure de la population dont ils font partie. De ce point de vue, c'est la diversité qui est au coeur de l'explication: la diversité des comportements des entreprises, en particulier la diversité des comportements d'innovation, et des mécanismes de sélection. La croissance de la productivité repose sur deux types de processus logiquement distincts: l'un d'innovation renouvelant ou améliorant la technologie, l'autre de diffusion, par lequel l'usage de ces technologies plus efficientes se répand à travers le système économique. Sur la base de ces principes, l'article propose une formalisation simple permettant de dégager les effets de productivité résultant de la diversité des comportements des entreprises, ou distinguant les effets d'innovation et les effets de diffusion. [eng] This paper presents the lines along which the analysis and explanation of productivity growth at the macro level can be fundamentally renewed. In an evolutionnary perspective, forces acting on individuals change not these individuals but the structure of the population of which they are members. From this point of view, it is diversity which is at the core of the argument: diversity in firm behaviours, particularly of innovative behaviours, togother with selection mechanisms. Productivity change involves two logically distinct innovation processes, creating new or improved technologies, and diffusion processes, spreading these new technologies into the economic system. On the basis of these principles, the paper proposes some simple formalization for indentifying separately innovation and diffusion productivity effects resulting from the diversity of enterprise behaviours.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Stanley Metcalfe, 1997. "The Evolutionary Explanation of Total Factor Productivity Growth : Macro Measurement and Micro Process," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 80(1), pages 93-114.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:recind:rei_0154-3229_1997_num_80_1_1670
    Note: DOI:10.3406/rei.1997.1670

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    Cited by:

    1. Giulio Cainelli, 2008. "Spatial Agglomeration, Technological Innovations, and Firm Productivity: Evidence from Italian Industrial Districts," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(3), pages 414-435.
    2. Paul A. David & Gavin Wright, 1999. "Early Twentieth Century Productivity Growth Dynamics: An Inquiry into the Economic History of "Our Ignorance"," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _033, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    3. Paul A. David, 2005. "Two Centuries of American Macroeconomic Growth From Exploitation of Resource Abundance to Knowledge-Driven Development," Macroeconomics 0502021, EconWPA.

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