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Higher Selection Processes in Evolutionary Economic Change


  • Gowdy, J M


Virtually all models of economic change are based on a Darwinian picture of a world where change is gradual, smooth, and where economic survival depends on being more efficient. This paper, drawing from current controversies in evolutionary biology, presents a broader interpretation of evolutionary change in which competitive selection is only one possible reason for economic survival. Economic change is presented as a hierarchical process. At one level, change takes place through the accumulation of small changes based on competitive selection at the margin, as described by standard economic theory. At higher levels, survival depends on processes over which the agent being selected has no control.

Suggested Citation

  • Gowdy, J M, 1992. "Higher Selection Processes in Evolutionary Economic Change," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 1-16, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:2:y:1992:i:1:p:1-16

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1985. "Standardization, Compatibility, and Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 70-83, Spring.
    2. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1988. "Coordination through Committees and Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(2), pages 235-252, Summer.
    3. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1986. "Technology Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 822-841, August.
    4. Michael L. Katz & Carl Shapiro, 1994. "Systems Competition and Network Effects," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 93-115, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh & John M. Gowdy, 2003. "The microfoundations of macroeconomics: an evolutionary perspective," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(1), pages 65-84, January.
    2. Rammel, Christian & van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M., 2003. "Evolutionary policies for sustainable development: adaptive flexibility and risk minimising," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2-3), pages 121-133, December.
    3. Werner Pascha & Cornelia Storz & Markus Taube, 2011. "Coordination between Inertia and Dynamic Development: An Overview of Issues and Contributions," Chapters,in: Institutional Variety in East Asia, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Kiwit Daniel, 1996. "Path-Dependence In Technological And Institutional Change – Some Criticisms And Suggestions," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-26, March.
    5. Jürgen Essletzbichler, 2005. "Diversity, stability and regional growth in the U.S. (1975-2002)," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0513, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Sep 2005.
    6. Foster, John, 1997. "The analytical foundations of evolutionary economics: From biological analogy to economic self-organization," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 427-451, October.
    7. Jeroen van den Bergh & John Gowdy, 2000. "Evolutionary Theories in Environmental and Resource Economics: Approaches and Applications," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 17(1), pages 37-57, September.
    8. Jürgen Essletzbichler & David L. Rigby, 2010. "Generalized Darwinism and Evolutionary Economic Geography," Chapters,in: The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Gowdy, John, 1997. "Introduction: biology and economics," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 377-383, October.
    10. John Gowdy, 1993. "Economic selection and the role of government: Some lessons from evolutionary biology," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 61-70, March.
    11. Kurt Dopfer, 2012. "The origins of meso economics," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 133-160, January.

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