The Future of Evolutionary Economics: Can We Break Out of the Beachhead?

Sidney Winter, Management, The Wharton School

Abstract: This essay contemplates the possible futures of evolutionary economics in terms of two contrasting images. In the first, the primary research emphasis of the future will continue to be on the topics that have interested evolutionary economists in the past, such as technological change, business behavior, and the role of institutions. Research contributions in these focal areas and in some related areas are briefly characterized. In the second image, there is a breakout from this ‘beachhead’ and a broader conflict with the reigning paradigm, neoclassical economics. Thomas Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions provides a framework and stimulus for thinking about the latter case, and the 20th century paradigm conflict in physics provides a baseline for thinking about it. The core strengths of evolutionary economics in the paradigm conflict are noted, and the evolutionary role of intentionality is examined. No definitive prediction about the future is offered.

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