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Innovation, Evolution and Complexity Theory

Koen Frenken, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
The motivation behind this book is the desire to integrate complexity theory into economic models of technological evolution. By means of developing an evolutionary model of complex technological systems, the book contributes to the neo-Schumpetarian literature on innovation, diffusion and technological paradigms.
Extent: 192 pp
Hardback Price: $127.00 Web: $114.30
Publication Date: 2006
ISBN: 978 1 84376 197 6
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Economics of Innovation
  • Evolutionary Economics
  • Innovation and Technology
  • Economics of Innovation
The motivation behind this book is the desire to integrate complexity theory into economic models of technological evolution. By means of developing an evolutionary model of complex technological systems, the book contributes to the neo-Schumpetarian literature on innovation, diffusion and technological paradigms.

Recent advances in complexity theory provide a new understanding of technological innovation and complex problem-solving. This book offers an approach based on Stuart Kauffman’s NK-model of complex systems to better understand and analyse search strategies that firms apply to develop new technologies. The models deal with a range of topics including bounded rationality, myopia, decomposability, modularity and the emergence of technological paradigms. Empirical applications include the evolution of early 18th century steam engine technology, 20th century aircraft and helicopter designs and recent innovations in personal computers. Innovation, Evolution and Complexity Theory makes excellent use of complexity theory and large datasets on technologies with which to complement the analysis.

The book will be of great interest to evolutionary and innovation economists and academics as well as scholars in the interdisciplinary field of complexity theory and industrial organisation.
‘. . . this book will not fail to have an impact on the profession. . . this is a very valuable book that shows the long way evolutionary economics has come in the past fifteen years.’
– Andreas Reinstaller, Journal of Evolutionary Economics
Contents: Foreword Part I: Theoretical Contributions 1. Introduction 2. Technology Landscapes 3. Generalised Genotype-Phenotype Maps 4. A Model of Technological Paradigms Part II: Empirical Applications 5. Entropy Statistics 6. Early Evolution of Steam Engines 7. Trajectories in Aircraft and Helicopters 8. The Advent of Portable Computers 9. Directions for Future Research References Index