Outlining the distinguishing characteristics of an evolutionary theory of innovation
This paper discusses notions of theory in relation to evolutionary understandings of innovation. It starts by empirically demonstrating the relevance of evolutionary perspectives – broadly defined – for understanding the “basics of what’s going on” in the economic sphere when it comes to innovation. It continues to argue and show that appreciative evolutionary understandings of innovation are connected to the Darwinian processes of variation, selection and retention in the theoretical “high range”. Multilevel theorizing, where researchers move between different levels and degrees of abstraction is therefore a key feature of an evolutionary theory of innovation. The paper ends by identifying puzzles and research challenges that evolutionary reasoning with respect to innovation need to address.
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