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The Evolutionary Foundations of Economics


  • Page extent: 592 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.86 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521691314 | ISBN-10: 0521691311)

DOI: 10.2277/0521691311

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 16:01 GMT, 26 November 2015)


It is widely recognised that mainstream economics has failed to translate micro consistently into macro economics and to provide endogenous explanations for the continual changes in the economic system. Since the early 1980s, a growing number of economists have been trying to provide answers to these two key questions by applying an evolutionary approach. This new departure has yielded a rich literature with enormous variety, but the unifying principles connecting the various ideas and views presented are, as yet, not apparent. This 2005 volume brings together fifteen original articles from scholars - each of whom has made a significant contribution to the field - in their common effort to reconstruct economics as an evolutionary science. Using meso economics as an analytical entity to bridge micro and macro economics as well as static and dynamic realms, a unified economic theory emerges.

• Exceptionally strong team of over fifteen eminent scholars, including Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon • Best 'one-stop-shop' account available of growing field of evolutionary economics - an essential reference • Non-mathematical - will appeal to wide range of social scientists


Prolegomenon; 1. Evolutionary economics: a theoretical framework Kurt Dopfer; Part I. Ontological Foundations: 2. The rediscovery of value and the opening of economics Ilya Prigogine; 3. Synergetics: from physics to economics Hermann Haken; 4. Darwinism, altruism and economics Herbert A. Simon; 5. Decomposition and growth: biological metaphors in economics from the 1880s to the 1980s Geoffrey M. Hodgson; 6. Path dependence in economic processes: implications for policy analysis in dynamical systems contexts Paul A. David; 7. Is there a theory of economic history? Joel Mokyr; Part II. Framework for Evolutionary Analysis: 8. Toward an evolutionary theory of production Sidney G. Winter; 9. Learning in evolutionary environments Giovanni Dosi, Luigi Marengo and Giorgio Fagiolo; 10. Evolutionary theory of the firm Ulrich Witt; 11. The self-organizational perspective on economic processes: a unifying paradigm John Foster; 12. Evolutionary concepts in relation to evolutionary economics J. Stanley Metcalfe; 13. Economics and the science of evolutionary complex systems Peter Allen; 14. Perspectives on technological evolution Richard R. Nelson; 15. Complex dynamics in economic organisms Ping Chen; 16. Evolutionary theorizing on economic growth Gerald Silverberg and Bart Verspagen; Bibliography; Index.


'The construction of an evolutionary economics is, in my view, one of the greatest scientific adventures of our time. This book brings together the leading scholars in the field to articulate what the evolutionary project in economics is all about, to provide a sense of its scope, and to lay the foundations for future research. The volume also extends a genuine invitation to participate in the exciting task of building an empirically grounded economic theory. The theoretical edifice of evolutionary economics is presently a work in progress, with some floors and some quarters much better worked out than others. But the vision of what it should look like at the end emerges clearly from this volume: it should be able to explain how modern economics came about through historically contingent processes and it should provide us with a deeper understanding of the economic challenges that lie ahead. I recommend leaving the introductory chapter for the end. Visit straight away the individual scholars' workshops, which are filled with many marvelous insights.' Johann Peter Murmann, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

'Kurt Dopfer, who possesses one of the most imaginative minds in the economics profession, has organized a splendid collection of the leading views on the nature and future of evolutionary economics. His choice is a marvellous combination of both the forest and the trees. If you want to know where the profession is, and where it thinks it is going, this is the book to study.' Mark Perlman, University of Pittsburgh

'The Evolutionary Foundations of Economics is an outstanding contribution to the development of evolutionary economics. The well edited chapters encompass the most prolific fields within evolutionary economics, ranging from complexity theory to the evolutionary theory of growth and development. Together with Kurt Dopfer's splendid introduction the book has to be considered as a guidepost in evolutionary economics, emphasizing the meso level of the economy as the decisive analytical basis in dealing with phenomena such as structure, pattern, change and development. The sixteen chapters of this volume, all written by well recognized scholars, are extremely helpful and important for understanding the functioning of modern capitalism and provide a valuable input for future research.' Horst Hanusch, University of Augsburg, Secretary General of International J. A. Schumpeter Society

'This important new book speaks with the voices of the most significant figures in present-day evolutionary economics. Anyone seriously interested in the evolutionary approach will have to stop and listen.' Richard N. Langlois, Department of Economics, University of Connecticut

'This book is a rare gathering of some of the deepest thinkers of modern evolutionary and complexity-based approaches to economic analysis. The themes reach across and beyond particular subject concerns and into the very foundations and great potential of evolutionary economics. It is a rich and stimulating compendium.' Jason Potts, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia


Kurt Dopfer, Ilya Prigogine, Hermann Haken, Herbert A. Simon, Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Paul A. David, Joel Mokyr, Sidney G. Winter, Giovanni Dosi, Luigi Marengo, Giorgio Fagiolo, Ulrich Witt, John Foster, J. Stanley Metcalfe, Peter Allen, Richard R. Nelson, Ping Chen, Gerald Silverberg, Bart Verspagen

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