chapter  1
14 Pages

Analytical foundations of evolutionary economics

The history of evolutionary economics is the history of a long struggle of escape from the mechanistic analysis of the economic system. We find doubts about the mechanistic nature of economic phenomena reflected already in the work of Adam Smith who highlighted the central importance of the growth of knowledge to the wealth of nations, and this recognition of the power of knowledge has continued through the works of Malthus, Marx, Veblen, Marshall, Schumpeter, Keynes, Hayek, Penrose, Shackle, Georgescu-Roegen, Boulding, Day, Nelson & Winter and the many others who have sought to explain the growth of knowledge and the dynamics of the economic process as more than just the outworking of a market mechanism, but as something more complex, organic and emergent. Evolutionary economists ultimately believe that human agency and its moral instincts of empathy and imagination are at the root of not just the wealth of nations, but also its continual regeneration and evolution. A mechanistic analysis is inadequate for this, and so new frameworks are ventured. Yet these historically have been multiple. In consequence, what lies beyond mechanistic analysis has not always been clear.