The Evolving Economy


The Evolving Economy

Essays on the Evolutionary Approach to Economics

9781845428327 Edward Elgar Publishing
Ulrich Witt, Director Emeritus of the Evolutionary Economics Research Group, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Germany and Adjunct Professor, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Australia
Publication Date: May 2006 ISBN: 978 1 84542 832 7 Extent: 416 pp
Change manifests itself in all facets of the economy. This important collection of previously published essays illustrates how the evolutionary approach can reveal not only where change comes from, and how it happens, but also where it will lead.

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Change manifests itself in all facets of the economy. This important collection of previously published essays illustrates how the evolutionary approach can reveal not only where change comes from, and how it happens, but also where it will lead.

The Evolving Economy covers a broad spectrum of issues ranging from the biological foundations of economic behavior to the co-evolution of firms, markets, and institutions. Ulrich Witt’s individualistic approach synthesizes elements familiar from the writings of Veblen and Schumpeter on economic evolution. A conceptual debate on what the notion of evolution means in the economic context is as much emphasized as is the discussion of concrete hypotheses explaining why and how evolutionary economic change comes about.

Offering an outline of a paradigm focusing on endogenous economic change, this book will be of great interest to economists and economic historians. Sociologists, philosophers and anthropologists will also find this work invaluable as it presents an encompassing assessment of the role of Darwinian thought for understanding human behavior and societal evolutio
Critical Acclaim
‘This is a genuine tour de force and what must be acknowledged by anyone who has followed the evolution of evolutionary economics since the early 1980s is the original, pioneering nature of these essays and the ideas they contain. . . These essays are a pleasure to read and to reflect on at leisure. Many, like this reviewer, will recognise that Ulrich Witt has followed the path of novelty in these essays and that in relation to much of our present understanding of evolutionary economics he has exercised enterprise and leadership. . . The best acknowledgement that we can give Witt’s enterprise is to continue to follow along the path marked out by these essays and extend the evolutionary perspective into new channels of economic and social experience.’
– Stan Metcalfe, Journal of Bioeconomics

‘Together, these papers underline Ulrich Witt’s well-deserved status as one of the leading and most innovative of evolutionary economists in the world today. . . The book is a worthy monument to the scientific contribution of its author over a period of seventeen years. It shows a lively, enquiring and evolving mind, from which we expect much in the future.’
– Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Journal of Evolutionary Economics

‘Economics is more than economising and maximising subject to a fixed-resources constraint. It is also the study of evolutionary processes and innovation-led search. Ulrich Witt musters an extensive knowledge of the economics of development and change in the essays collected together in this book. Building on authors such as Schumpeter and Hayek but contributing his own theoretical insights on biology, games, constitutions, progress, he demonstrates convincingly that economics can be a humanitarian discipline and a kaleidoscope of surprise.’
– David Reisman, University of Surrey, UK and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

‘In this collection, we find the germs of an evolutionary theory of economic systems based firmly on the most solid elements of economic theory. This is not short praise, since mainstream economics often ignores issues discussed here. As the articles, due to their topics, have not appeared in large circulation journals so far, this book is a most welcome addition to the library of any scholar grappling with the difficulties of understanding economic change. The book should stimulate the ongoing discussion on issues of transformation, but also, in the context of globalisation, the problems of institutional and system change which this process necessitates.’
– Jürgen G. Backhaus, Erfurt University, Germany

‘Ulrich Witt is one of the most interesting and innovative thinkers working in the field of evolutionary economics today. Since the 1980s, and in a series of pathbreaking essays, Witt has made major contributions to the development of key concepts, the exploration of the relationship with Darwinism, the application of evolutionary ideas to public choice and the transformation of Austrian School perspectives. This collection of essays shows the magnitude of Witt’s contribution and will provide an enduring stimulus for further theoretical development.’
– Geoffrey M. Hodgson, University of Hertfordshire Business School, UK

‘The time is upon us for specialists in evolutionary economics to work out an integrative analysis with no, or little, regard for maintaining and establishing hegemony for the school with which they have been associated. So much work, from so many diverse perspectives, that an integrative analysis will be much richer than any such effort of thirty or forty, even twenty, years ago. Ulrich Witt is one of those to whom we look for such work. This collection of his articles on evolutionary economics show that an integrative analysis is possible and need not have only one center of gravity: Coordination, institutional adjustment and change, multiple characteristics of technological change, biological and psychological sources of behavior, power, and so on, all must be included. The collection is a monument to Witt’s efforts and a base for further integrative analysis. Any evolutionary economist with an open mind will learn much from this collection.’
– Warren J. Samuels, Michigan State University, US
Part I: Introduction
1. Evolutionary Economics and the Extension of Evolution to the Economy

Part II: Evolutionary Concepts and Methodology
2. Emergence and Dissemination of Innovation: Some Principles of Evolutionary Economics
3. Evolutionary Concepts in Economics
4. Coordination of Individual Economic Activities as an Evolving Process of Self-Organization
5. Firms’ Market Behavior Under Imperfect Information and Economic Natural Selection
6. “Lock-in” vs. “Critical Masses” – Industrial Change Under Network Externalities

Part III: The Darwinian Perspective and the Continuity Hypothesis
7. Bioeconomics as Economics from a Darwinian Perspective
8. Economics, Sociobiology, and Behavioral Psychology on Preferences
9. Economic Behavior and Biological Evolution: Some Remarks on the Sociobiology Debate
10. Self-Organization and Economics – What is New?

Part IV: Evolution in the Context of New Institutional Economics and Public Choice
11. The Evolution of Economic Institutions as a Propagation Process
12. The Endogenous Public Choice Theorist
13. Multiple Equilibria, Critical Masses, and Institutional Change. The Coup d’état Problem
14. Evolution and Stability of Cooperation Without Enforceable Contracts
15. Between Appeasement and Belligerent Moralism: The Evolution of Moral Conduct in International Politics
16. Innovations, Externalities and the Problem of Economic Progress

Part V: The Evolutionary Approach and the Austrian School of Economics
17. Subjectivism in Economics – A Suggested Reorientation
18. Endogenous Change – Causes and Contingencies
19. Turning Austrian Economics into an Evolutionary Theory
20. Do Entrepreneurs Need Firms? A Contribution to a Missing Chapter in Austrian Economics


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