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A Veblenian Critique of Nelson and Winter’s Evolutionary Theory

Jo, Tae-Hee (2020): A Veblenian Critique of Nelson and Winter’s Evolutionary Theory.

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Abstract

It is often argued that Richard Nelson and Sydney Winter’s evolutionary theory is an alternative to neoclassical economics and is compatible with or complementary to Veblenian evolutionary economics. This paper subjects such arguments to critical examination. I argue that while Nelson and Winter’s theory provides a more realistic account of the firm behavior than Marshallian-neoclassical theory does, it is a neoclassical evolutionary theory in much the same sense as Marshall’s economics is quasi-evolutionary, ‘neo-classical’ economics according to Veblen. Therefore, Nelson and Winter’s evolutionary theory is in fact a protective modification of neoclassical economics and is antithetical to Veblen’s evolutionary economics.

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