IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

How Evolutionary Is Schumpeter'S Theory Of Economic Development?


  • Ulrich Witt


The generic features of an evolutionary theory which are identified in the conceptional discussion of the present paper can be shown to be present already in Schumpeter's 1912 work, The Theory of Economic Development . None the less, it is argued that Schumpeter fell short of a level of generality by which he would have succeeded in providing a true foundation for evolutionary economics. The reason is his eagerness--very clearly visible in the "lost" seventh chapter--to align his theory with the economic reasoning of contemporary "pure" economic theory that was moulded in an equilibrium-oriented heuristic and the methodology of comparative statics. Schumpeter's conception--which, in opposing the idea of borrowing from Darwinian thought, he called "development"--is rather a special theory of the unsteady capitalist growth process passing through booms and crises. Throughout all of Schumpeter's writings the notion of development is therefore closely related to the business cycle phenomenon. The paper argues that this special framing implies not only some arbitrary hypotheses which are difficult to accept in an evolutionary interpretation, but also some limitations in his understanding of (what he refused to call) economic evolution, particularly with respect to its driving forces.

Suggested Citation

  • Ulrich Witt, 2002. "How Evolutionary Is Schumpeter'S Theory Of Economic Development?," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1-2), pages 7-22.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:indinn:v:9:y:2002:i:1-2:p:7-22 DOI: 10.1080/13662710220123590

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christian Longhi, 1999. "Networks, Collective Learning and Technology Development in Innovative High Technology Regions: The Case of Sophia-Antipolis," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(4), pages 333-342.
    2. Malerba, Franco, et al, 1999. "'History-Friendly' Models of Industry Evolution: The Computer Industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 3-40, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Guido Buenstorf, 2007. "Creation and Pursuit of Entrepreneurial Opportunities: An Evolutionary Economics Perspective," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 323-337, April.
    2. Georg Blind & Andreas Pyka, 2015. "Erich Schneider: The admiring disciple who did not become a follower," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 239-252, January.
    3. Christian Schubert, 2009. "Welfare Creation and Destruction in a Schumpeterian World," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2009-14, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    4. Rahmeyer Fritz, 2013. "Schumpeter, Marshall, and Neo-Schumpeterian Evolutionary Economics: A Critical Stocktaking," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 233(1), pages 39-64, February.
    5. repec:eur:ejmsjr:6 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Martin Fransman, 2012. "Creating Novelty through Vertical Relationships between Groups of Complementary Players," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm, chapter 30 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Helge Peukert, 2015. "Richard Abel Musgrave and Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Two intellectual authorities in economics and their shared and different frameworks, read through the lenses of the Perlman dichotomies," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 253-262, January.
    8. Martin Fransman, 2011. "The Symbiotic Theory of Innovation: Knowledge Creation and the Evolution of the Capitalist System," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Putthiwanit, Chutinon, 2016. "An analysis of Joseph Schumpeter's life, concept of innovation, and application for Estonia," MPRA Paper 71126, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Lougui, Monia & Broström, Anders, 2016. "New firm formation in the wake of mergers and acquisitions: Are employees pushed or pulled into entrepreneurship?," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 427, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    11. Jonathan Levie & Erkko Autio, 2008. "A theoretical grounding and test of the GEM model," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 235-263, October.
    12. Geoffrey Hodgson, 2007. "Taxonomizing the Relationship Between Biology and Economics: A Very Long Engagement," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 169-185, August.
    13. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Banji & Barclay, Lou Anne, 2003. "Systems of Innovation and Human Capital in African Development," UNU-INTECH Discussion Paper Series 2, United Nations University - INTECH.
    14. Helen Lawton Smith & Saverio Romeo, 2012. "Entrepreneurship and innovation: Oxfordshire’s high-tech economy–firm survival, growth and innovation," Chapters,in: Entrepreneurship, Social Capital and Governance, chapter 2, pages 27-52 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    15. Chai Andreas, 2012. "Consumer Specialization and the Demand for Novelty: a Reconsideration of the Links and Implications for Studying Fashion Cycles in Tourism," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 232(6), pages 678-701, December.
    16. Alexander Frenzel Baudisch, 2006. "Functional Demand Satiation and Industrial Dynamcis - The Emergence of the Global Value Chain for the U.S. Footwear Industry," DRUID Working Papers 06-03, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    17. Christian Schubert, 2014. "“Generalized Darwinism” and the quest for an evolutionary theory of policy-making," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 479-513, July.
    18. Guido Buenstorf, 2012. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Evolution, Organization and Economic Behavior, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    19. Guido Buenstorf, 2006. "Perception and pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunities: an evolutionary economics perspective," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    20. Heshmati, Almas & Lenz-Cesar, Flávio, 2013. "Determinants and Policy Simulation of Firms Cooperation in Innovation," IZA Discussion Papers 7487, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:indinn:v:9:y:2002:i:1-2:p:7-22. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.