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Competitive selection, self-organisation and Joseph A. Schumpeter


  • John Foster

    () (Department of Economics, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia)


Post-Schumpeterians have tended to use biological analogies to understand economic evolution, in contrast to Schumpeter himself. In this paper it is argued that the biological analogies used tend to be outdated and that Schumpeter espoused an intuitive understanding of the evolutionary economic process that is closely related to modern conceptions of self-organisation, suitably adapted for application in socioeconomic systems. Using a self-organisation approach, competition can be understood without recourse to biological analogy, in terms of general systemic principles that operate in the presence of variety. Viewing economic evolution in terms of complex adaptation in self-organising systems yields nonequilibrium and nonlinear perspectives that parallel Schumpeter's own intuitions, reinvigorating them as the basis of evolutionary economic thinking in the new Millennium.

Suggested Citation

  • John Foster, 2000. "Competitive selection, self-organisation and Joseph A. Schumpeter," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 311-328.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:10:y:2000:i:3:p:311-328

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    More about this item


    Joseph A. Schumpeter - Self-organisation - Competition - Selection - Evolutionary economics - Biological analogy - Nonequilibrium process - Nonlinear discontinuity;

    JEL classification:

    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights


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