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How Useful Is Universal Darwinism as a Framework to Study Competition and Industrial Evolution?

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  • G. Buenstorf

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Abstract

The adequate role of Darwinist concepts in evolutionary economics has long been a contentious issue. The controversy has recently been rekindled and modified by the position of "Universal Darwinism", most prominently favored by Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen. They argue that the ontology of all evolutionary systems accords to the basic Darwinist scheme of variation, selection and inheritance. This paper focuses on the emerging application of the Universal Darwinist framework to the analysis of market competition and industrial evolution and gauges its usefulness for organizing an evolutionary approach to industrial economics. Drawing on both a theoretical discussion and recent empirical findings, it argues that selection and inheritance concepts narrowly construed after the biological example are of limited help in studying markets and industries. As an alternative to the 'top-down' approach of Universal Darwinism, 'bottom-up' causal theories are suggested that explain how the interplay of descent, experience and learning shapes the competitive performance of firms in the evolution of industries.

Suggested Citation

  • G. Buenstorf, 2005. "How Useful Is Universal Darwinism as a Framework to Study Competition and Industrial Evolution?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2005-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2005-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Giovanni Dosi & Luigi Marengo & Giorgio Fagiolo, 1996. "Learning in evolutionary environment," CEEL Working Papers 9605, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    2. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2004. "The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 281-307, July.
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    9. Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Knudsen, Thorbjorn, 2006. "Why we need a generalized Darwinism, and why generalized Darwinism is not enough," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 1-19, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brunk, Gregory G. & Hunter, Kennith G., 2008. "An ecological perspective on interest groups and economic stagnation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 194-212, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Universal Darwinism; routines; pre-entry experience; spinoffs; descent;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General

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