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Increasing returns: historiographic issues and path dependence

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  • Kenneth Arrow

Abstract

Writing a history of the analysis of increasing returns in economics is qualitatively different from the usual cumulative history of knowledge, as exemplified by the history of perfectly competitive analysis. The history of increasing returns is much less continuous. The reason for this irregular history lies, in my view, in the analytic nature of the subject. I concentrate on the recent history of the implications of increasing returns for path dependence in economic development. Foreshadowed by Veblen (1915) the topic was made explicit by Paul David in some theoretical analyses of topics in economic history (1971, 1975) and then by subsequent papers by David and by Brian Arthur in the 1980s. Contemporaneously, Farrell, Katz, Saloner, and Shapiro came to parallel conclusions in a very specific industrial organization context marked by network externalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth Arrow, 2000. "Increasing returns: historiographic issues and path dependence," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(2), pages 171-180.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:7:y:2000:i:2:p:171-180
    DOI: 10.1080/713765179
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1985. "Standardization, Compatibility, and Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 70-83, Spring.
    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. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-337, May.
    5. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1985. "Installed Base and Compatibility With Implications for Product Preannouncements," Working papers 385, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    6. Young, Allyn A., 1928. "Increasing Returns and Economic Progress," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 38, pages 527-542.
    7. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1985. "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 424-440, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Motoyama, Yasuyuki & Cao, Cong & Appelbaum, Richard, 2014. "Observing regional divergence of Chinese nanotechnology centers," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 11-21.
    2. Moreno ROMA & Paul HIEBERT, "undated". "Relative House Price Dynamics Across Euro Area and US Cities: Convergence or Divergence?," EcoMod2010 259600143, EcoMod.
    3. Hugo ROJAS-ROMAGOSA & Luis RIVERA, "undated". "Human Capital Formation and the Linkage between Trade and Poverty: The Cases of Costa Rica and Nicaragua," EcoMod2010 259600142, EcoMod.
    4. Zweynert, Joachim & Goldschmidt, Nils, 2005. "The Two Transitions in Central and Eastern Europe and the Relation between Path Dependent and Politically Implemented Institutional Change," HWWA Discussion Papers 314, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
    5. Alessandra Colombelli & Nick von Tunzelmann, 2011. "The Persistence of Innovation and Path Dependence," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Leonhard Dobusch & Elke Schüßler, 2013. "Theorizing path dependence: a review of positive feedback mechanisms in technology markets, regional clusters, and organizations," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 617-647, June.
    7. repec:eee:ecolec:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:148-162 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Jean-Philippe Vergne & Rodolphe Durand, 2010. "The Missing Link Between the Theory and Empirics of Path Dependence: Conceptual Clarification, Testability Issue, and Methodological Implications," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 736-759, June.
    9. Cristiano Antonelli, 2011. "The Economic Complexity of Technological Change: Knowledge Interaction and Path Dependence," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Frank Schiller & Alexandra Penn & Angela Druckman & Lauren Basson & Kate Royston, 2014. "Exploring Space, Exploiting Opportunities," Journal of Industrial Ecology, Yale University, vol. 18(6), pages 792-798, December.
    11. Zweynert, Joachim & Goldschmidt, Nils, 2005. "The Two Transitions in Central and Eastern Europe and the Relation between Path Dependent and Politically Implemented Institutional Change," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 05/3, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..

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