The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines

The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines This paper pursues a research agenda inspired by Richard Nelson and Sidney Winter’s Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change (1982). This seminal work applied the Darwinian concepts of variation, replication and selection to the evolution of firms. It proposed a level of evolution, replication and selection at a level higher than individuals or genes, involving the replication and selection of routines and institutions. Significantly, the applicability or otherwise of these Darwinian concepts depends on precise definitions of terms such as replication and selection. The present essay builds on previous work where the concepts of replication (Godfrey-Smith, 2000; Aunger, 2002; Hodgson, 2003b) and selection (Price, 1995; Frank, 1998; Knudsen, 2002b, 2003) have been refined. We deploy the key concepts of ‘replicator’ and ‘interactor’ from the modern philosophy of biology (Hull, 1981, 1988). It is shown that while habits and routines can be regarded as replicators, there is a case for regarding firms and similarly cohesive organizations as interactors. We explore some of the implications of this result and provide an important component in the construction of a multiple-level evolutionary theory, involving replicating units at several socio-economic levels. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Evolutionary Economics Springer Journals

The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 by Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg
Subject
Economics
ISSN
0936-9937
eISSN
1432-1386
D.O.I.
10.1007/s00191-004-0192-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper pursues a research agenda inspired by Richard Nelson and Sidney Winter’s Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change (1982). This seminal work applied the Darwinian concepts of variation, replication and selection to the evolution of firms. It proposed a level of evolution, replication and selection at a level higher than individuals or genes, involving the replication and selection of routines and institutions. Significantly, the applicability or otherwise of these Darwinian concepts depends on precise definitions of terms such as replication and selection. The present essay builds on previous work where the concepts of replication (Godfrey-Smith, 2000; Aunger, 2002; Hodgson, 2003b) and selection (Price, 1995; Frank, 1998; Knudsen, 2002b, 2003) have been refined. We deploy the key concepts of ‘replicator’ and ‘interactor’ from the modern philosophy of biology (Hull, 1981, 1988). It is shown that while habits and routines can be regarded as replicators, there is a case for regarding firms and similarly cohesive organizations as interactors. We explore some of the implications of this result and provide an important component in the construction of a multiple-level evolutionary theory, involving replicating units at several socio-economic levels.

Journal

Journal of Evolutionary EconomicsSpringer Journals

Published: Jan 1, 2004

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