From a Routine-Based to a Knowledge-Based View: Towards an Evolutionary Theory of the Firm
Evolutionary economics in the initial version of Nelson and Winter is concentrated on the analysis of the evolution of industries and markets and in that entrepreneurial innovation activities. But a theory of the firm beneath the level of the industry is not taken into account to a large extent. In order to widen its fundamental principles a resource-based, and as its extension, a knowledge-based view of the firm, both originated in the field of Business Strategy, are seen as promising candidates to close this gap within evolutionary economics. Industry dynamics as the evolution of a population of firms in this way is supplemented by a more detailed characterization of the internal structure of individual firms. It is the fundamental question with regard to the adequacy of an evolutionary interpretation of firm behaviour and development as to what extend a firm and its individual activities are considered to be capable of purposefully and actively influencing its environment, on the one hand, and are blindly selected by environmental pressure, on the other hand. In this way firms become intendedly heterogenous concerning market performance and organizational structure. Regarding the general topic of a theory of the firm, a unified approach will not be constructed, but more likely a hybrid one being composed of technological, institutional and efficiency-based elements.
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