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Bounded Rationality, Cognitive Maps, and Trial and Error Learning


  • Richard R. Nelson


The term "bounded rationality" is meant to connote the reasoning capabilities of an actor who, on the one hand, has a goal to achieve and an at least partially formed theory as to how to achieve it, and on the other hand, that the theory is somewhat crude, likely will be revised in the course of the effort, and that success is far from assured. This article presents a theory of how trial and error learning interacts with theory modification in the course of problem solving under bounded rationality. The empirical focus is on efforts to advance a technology, especially medical practice, but the analysis is quite general. A central question explored is what makes progress in a field hard or easy.

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  • Richard R. Nelson, 2005. "Bounded Rationality, Cognitive Maps, and Trial and Error Learning," LEM Papers Series 2005/28, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2005/28

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nelson, Richard R., 2003. "On the uneven evolution of human know-how," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 909-922, June.
    2. 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.
    3. Nelson, Katherine & Nelson, Richard R., 2002. "On the nature and evolution of human know-how," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 719-733, July.
    4. Nightingale, Paul, 2004. "Technological capabilities, invisible infrastructure and the un-social construction of predictability: the overlooked fixed costs of useful research," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1259-1284, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. João Ferreira & Nicolas Gravel, 2017. "Choice with Time," Working Papers halshs-01577260, HAL.
    2. Francisco Fatas-Villafranca & Gloria Jarne & Julio Sanchez-Choliz, 2014. "Stock and Mobility of Researchers and Industrial Leadership," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(1), pages 95-122, February.
    3. Rok Stritar & Mateja Drnovšek, 2016. "What entrepreneurs discover when creating opportunities? Insights from Skype and YouTube ventures," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 659-679, September.
    4. Geels, Frank W., 2014. "Reconceptualising the co-evolution of firms-in-industries and their environments: Developing an inter-disciplinary Triple Embeddedness Framework," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 261-277.
    5. Muñoz, Félix-Fernando & Encinar, María-Isabel & Cañibano, Carolina, 2011. "On the role of intentionality in evolutionary economic change," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 193-203, September.
    6. Gino Cattani & Alex Dorsch & Sidney G. Winter, 2007. "The Value of Moderate Obsession: Insights from a New Model of Organizational Search," LEM Papers Series 2007/03, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    7. Hart E. Posen & Daniel A. Levinthal, 2012. "Chasing a Moving Target: Exploitation and Exploration in Dynamic Environments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(3), pages 587-601, March.
    8. Nathalie Lazaric & Kevin Maréchal, 2010. "Overcoming inertia: insights from evolutionary economics into improved energy and climate policy," Post-Print hal-00452205, HAL.
    9. Muñoz, Félix & Encinar, María Isabel, 2007. "Action Plans and Socio-Economic Evolutionary Change," Working Papers in Economic Theory 2007/07, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    10. repec:bla:stratm:v:37:y:2016:i:13:p:2545-2568 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Bounded Rationality; Search; Progress;

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