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Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Production

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  • Sidney G. Winter

Abstract

Production theory in the neoclassical tradition is strong on Abstract generality. Its high level of Abstraction tends to impede understanding of technological change, partly because its perspective on production differs so much from those of engineers, managers and technologists. A more grounded approach is needed for evolutionary economics, since evolutionary thinking sees questions of production as tightly and reciprocally connected with questions of coordination, incentives, and organizational knowledge, and is concerned above all with change. In this essay, the shortcomings of mainstream theory are identified and explained in a review of its historical development. The remainder of the paper sets forth a map for a production theory that reflects the key attributes of the productive knowledge. A discussion of spatial replication of productive activity provides a sharp contrast between the evolutionary and mainstream perspectives. The paper concludes with a discussion that places production theory within the broader framework of evolutionary economics and identifies some of the many research tasks on the agenda.

Suggested Citation

  • Sidney G. Winter, 2002. "Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Production," LEM Papers Series 2002/27, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2002/27
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    8. Dosi, Giovanni, 1993. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 102-103, April.
    9. S.A. Lippman & R.P. Rumelt, 1982. "Uncertain Imitability: An Analysis of Interfirm Differences in Efficiency under Competition," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 418-438, Autumn.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi, 2005. "Technology as Problem-Solving Procedures and Technology as Input-Output Relations: Some Perspectives on the Theory of Production," LEM Papers Series 2005/26, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Giulio Bottazzi & Marco Grazzi & Angelo Secchi, 2005. "Characterizing the Production Process: A Disaggregated Analysis of Italian Manufacturing Firms," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 95(1), pages 291-318, January-F.
    3. Armando Dalla Costa & Elson Rodrigo de Souza-Santos, 2009. "O grupo Randon: Estratégia e trajetória de expansão a partir do enfoque da teoria evolucionária da firma," Working Papers 0095, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Department of Economics.
    4. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Faillo & Luigi Marengo, 2006. "Modeling Routines and Organizational Learning. A Discussion of the State-of-the-Art," LEM Papers Series 2006/10, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.

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