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Evolutionary Policy

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  • Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh
  • Giorgos Kallis

Abstract

We explore the idea of public policy from the perspective of evolutionary thinking. This involves paying attention to concepts like diversity, population, selection, innovation, coevolution, group selection, path-dependence and lock-in. We critically discuss the notion of evolutionary progress. The relevance of evolutionary dynamics is illustrated for policy and political change, technical change, sustainability transitions and regulation of consumer behaviour. A lack of attention for the development of evolutionary policy criteria and goals is identified and alternative choices are critically evaluated. Finally, evolutionary policy advice is compared with policy advice coming from neoclassical economics, public choice theory and theories of resilience and adaptive management. We argue that evolutionary thinking offers a distinct and useful perspective on public policy design and change.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh & Giorgos Kallis, 2009. "Evolutionary Policy," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2009-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2009-02
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    Cited by:

    1. Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen Bergh, 2011. "Environmental Policy Theory Given Bounded Rationality and Other-regarding Preferences," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(2), pages 263-304, June.
    2. Kallis, Giorgos & Norgaard, Richard B., 2010. "Coevolutionary ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 690-699, February.
    3. Christian Schubert, 2013. "Is Novelty Always a Good Thing? Towards an Evolutionary Welfare Economics," Economic Complexity and Evolution, in: Guido Buenstorf & Uwe Cantner & Horst Hanusch & Michael Hutter & Hans-Walter Lorenz & Fritz Rahmeyer (ed.), The Two Sides of Innovation, edition 127, pages 209-242, Springer.
    4. Safarzyńska, Karolina, 2013. "Evolutionary-economic policies for sustainable consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 187-195.
    5. Flanagan, Kieron & Uyarra, Elvira & Laranja, Manuel, 2011. "Reconceptualising the 'policy mix' for innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 702-713, June.
    6. Nathalie Lazaric & Kevin Maréchal, 2010. "Overcoming inertia: insights from evolutionary economics into improved energy and climate policy," Post-Print hal-00452205, HAL.

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    Keywords

    Adaptive management; coevolution; escaping lock-in; evolutionary politics; evolutionary progress; innovation policy; optimal diversity; resilience; social-technical transition Length 43 pages;
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