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  • Cited by 12
  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: September 2009

16 - Evolutionary theorizing on economic growth

    • By Gerald Silverberg, Professor of Economics, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT), Maastricht, the Netherlands, Bart Verspagen, Research Fellow Eindhoven Centre for Innovation Studies ECIS Eindhoven University of Technology, Maastricht, the Netherlands
  • Edited by Kurt Dopfer, Universität St Gallen, Switzerland
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • DOI:
  • pp 506-539



While an evolutionary perspective has been urged upon economists since at least the time of Alfred Marshall (1890; see Hodgson, 1993, for a contemporary reiteration), what has been lacking until recently, at least for a large portion of the economics profession, has been a body of formal theory and quantitative analysis on an explicitly evolutionary basis. This has changed since the work of Richard Nelson and Sidney Winter in the 1960s and 1970s (summarized in Nelson and Winter, 1982), which operationalized and extended many of the concepts going back to Joseph Schumpeter (1934, 1942), Armen Alchian (1950), Jack Downie (1955), Josef Steindl (1952) and others. Since then a number of authors have been enlarging on this foundation and systematically extending the evolutionary economics paradigm in a number of directions. A survey of some of these can be found in Nelson, 1995.

In this chapter we intend to deal with the basics of a formal evolutionary approach to technical change, economic dynamics and growth. In so doing we will leave out for the most part the burgeoning new areas of application of evolutionary ideas to game theory, learning dynamics and bounded rationality, organization theory, financial markets, industrial organization and the interface between economics, law and culture – most of which are dealt with elsewhere in this volume.

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