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Theoretical models of heterogeneity, growth and competitiveness: insights from the mainstream and evolutionary economics paradigms

Castellacci, Fulvio (2011): Theoretical models of heterogeneity, growth and competitiveness: insights from the mainstream and evolutionary economics paradigms. Forthcoming in: (2011)

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Abstract

This paper presents a survey of theoretical models of heterogeneity, growth and competitiveness. We compare two main theoretical traditions, evolutionary economics and mainstream heterogeneity models, in order to investigate whether the incorporation of heterogeneous agents has made the recent wave of mainstream models more similar to the evolutionary modelling style and results. The results of our survey exercise can be summarized as follows. On the one hand, we observe some increasing similarities and converging aspects between the evolutionary and the mainstream approaches to the study of heterogeneity. On the other hand, however, there are still some fundamental differences between them, which mainly relate to the distinct set of theoretical assumptions and methodological frameworks in which these heterogeneity models are set up and rooted. In short, the evolutionary approach emphasizes the complexities of the growth process and makes an effort to provide a realistic description of it, whereas the mainstream approach does instead follow a modelling methodology that emphasizes the analytical power and tractability of the formalization, even if that implies a somewhat simplified and less realistic description of the growth process.

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