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Poverty of stimulus and absence of cause: some questions for Felin and Foss

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 February 2011

University of Hertfordshire Business School, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, UK
University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark


We examine an aspect of the argument of Teppo Felin and Nicolai Foss (‘The Endogenous Origins of Experience, Routines, and Organizational Capabilities: The Poverty of Stimulus’; 2011) where they reject the claim of Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen (‘Darwinism, Causality and the Social Sciences’; 2004) that habits depend crucially on stimuli from the social environment. We argue that while rightly stressing human agency they also create a false dichotomy between agential and environmental factors in the explanation. Felin and Foss create further confusion by hinting – without adequate clarification – at an untenable notion of human agency as an uncaused cause. We raise several questions of clarification for these authors.

Research Article
Copyright © The JOIE Foundation 2011

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