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The Design of Order. Notes on Evolutionary Principles and the Dynamics of Innovation

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  • J. Stan Metcalfe

Abstract

[eng] No one doubts the central significance of the immense variety of innovations in the pro­cess of economic growth and development. Yet incorporating innovation with economic theory remains a taxing problem. Innovation is disruptive, it breaks established patterns of behaviour, it gives rise to unpredictable consequences. This paper explores the inno­vation process in an evolutionary model of industrial development in which we insist upon co-ordination of firm behaviours while denying the relevance of equilibrium as an organising concept. Co-ordination provides coherence but the process of development remains open-ended. Principles of evolutionary theory, Fisher's principle, allow us to track an evolving distribution of firms each with different cost levels and different rates of innovation. The consequences and sources of the creativity of firms is thus contingent in the particular way in which the activities of these firms are co-ordinated. [fre] Nul ne doute de la signification centrale de la variété immense des innovations dans le processus de croissance économique et de développement. Cependant, incorporer l'innovation dans la théorie économique reste un problème éprouvant. L'innovation est pertubatrice, elle rompt les modèles de comportement établis, elle donne lieu à des conséquences imprévisibles. Cet article explore le processus d'innovation à l'aide d'un modèle évolutionniste de développement industriel dans lequel on insiste sur la coordination des comportements d'entreprises, tout en déniant la pertinence de l'équilibre comme concept d'organisation. La coordina­tion fournit la cohérence mais le processus de développement reste sans point d'arrivée. Les principes de la théorie évolutionniste, le principe de Fisher, nous permet de suivre une distribution évolutive de firmes ayant chacune des niveaux de coût et des taux d'innovation différents. Les sources et conséquences de la créativité des firmes sont alors contingents à la manière particulière dont les acti­vités de ces firmes sont coordonnées.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Stan Metcalfe, 1995. "The Design of Order. Notes on Evolutionary Principles and the Dynamics of Innovation," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 46(6), pages 1561-1583.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:reveco:reco_0035-2764_1995_num_46_6_409752
    Note: DOI:10.3406/reco.1995.409752
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Metcalfe, J S, 1994. "Competition, Fisher's Principle and Increasing Returns in the Selection Process," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 327-346, November.
    2. Hodgson, Geoffrey M, 1993. "Theories of Economic Evolution: A Preliminary Taxonomy," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 61(2), pages 125-143, June.
    3. Scott, Maurice F, 1991. "A New View of Economic Growth: A Reply," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 237-244, April.
    4. ., 1994. "Evolution, Formal Models of Economic," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 40 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Alan P. Kirman, 1992. "Whom or What Does the Representative Individual Represent?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
    6. Freeman, Chris, 1994. "The Economics of Technical Change," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(5), pages 463-514, October.
    7. ., 1994. "Evolution, Theories of Economic," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 41 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Nelson, Richard R., 1990. "Capitalism as an engine of progress," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 193-214, June.
    9. Richardson, G B, 1972. "The Organisation of Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(327), pages 883-896, September.
    10. ., 1994. "Cultural Hermeneutics and Evolutionary Economics," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 20 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Dosi, Giovanni & Ermoliev, Yuri & Kaniovski, Yuri, 1994. "Generalized urn schemes and technological dynamics," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 1-19, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. de Barcellos, Marcia Dutra & Pozzo, Daniele & Ferreira, Gabriela Cardozo & Lionello, Rafael Laitano, 2011. "The Dynamics of the Innovation System for Functional Foods in South Brazil," 2011 International European Forum, February 14-18, 2011, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 122032, International European Forum on Innovation and System Dynamics in Food Networks.
    2. Lenihan, Helena, 2011. "Enterprise policy evaluation: Is there a 'new' way of doing it?," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 323-332, November.

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