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Economic Development from the Perspective of Evolutionary Economic Theory


  • Richard Nelson


Sanjaya Lall saw economic development as an evolutionary process, with technological learning at its heart. This essay lays out the key differences between an evolutionary theory of economic activity and change, and the neoclassical theory as articulated in economic textbooks. It argues that only an evolutionary theory fits what is known about how technological learning progresses. It also argues for recognition, right at the basis of economic theorizing, that modern economic systems contain a rich mix of institutions, not simply the firms, households and markets that are in neoclassical theory, and that the roles of government cannot be adequately understood as simply responses to “market failures”. It develops a view that long-run economic change must be understood as involving the co-evolution of technologies in use and the institutional structures supporting and regulating these.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Nelson, 2008. "Economic Development from the Perspective of Evolutionary Economic Theory," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 9-21.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:36:y:2008:i:1:p:9-21 DOI: 10.1080/13600810701848037

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