Capital as Embodied Knowledge: Some Implications for the Theory of Economic Growth

Capital as Embodied Knowledge: Some Implications for the Theory of Economic Growth Capital goods are embodied knowledge of how to produce. Therefore, capital development is a learning process, through which knowledge gets embodied in new capital goods. Because the necessary knowledge is dispersed among many people who must interact to communicate their particular, often tacit knowledge, capital development is a social process. Because this interaction takes time and continually changes the capital structure, capital development is an on-going process. Capital development is a social learning process. Neither traditional nor “new” growth theory illuminates how the capital structure evolves. Traditional growth theory, by modeling capital as single variable in the production function, ignores the heterogeneity of capital goods and their varied structural relationships of complementarity, substitutability, feedback, and feed-forward. New growth theory, while accounting for technological change, still treats capital as aggregable and thus implicitly homogeneous. That capital development is a learning process suggests that growth rates can increase. What prevents exponential growth is neither diminishing returns nor upper bounds to human capital, as growth models assume. It is the constant challenge of maintaining capital complementarities in a world of incomplete and rapidly changing knowledge. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Review of Austrian Economics Springer Journals

Capital as Embodied Knowledge: Some Implications for the Theory of Economic Growth

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Publisher
Kluwer Academic Publishers
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
Subject
Economics; Public Finance; Political Science; History of Economic Thought/Methodology
ISSN
0889-3047
eISSN
1573-7128
D.O.I.
10.1023/A:1007808618703
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Capital goods are embodied knowledge of how to produce. Therefore, capital development is a learning process, through which knowledge gets embodied in new capital goods. Because the necessary knowledge is dispersed among many people who must interact to communicate their particular, often tacit knowledge, capital development is a social process. Because this interaction takes time and continually changes the capital structure, capital development is an on-going process. Capital development is a social learning process. Neither traditional nor “new” growth theory illuminates how the capital structure evolves. Traditional growth theory, by modeling capital as single variable in the production function, ignores the heterogeneity of capital goods and their varied structural relationships of complementarity, substitutability, feedback, and feed-forward. New growth theory, while accounting for technological change, still treats capital as aggregable and thus implicitly homogeneous. That capital development is a learning process suggests that growth rates can increase. What prevents exponential growth is neither diminishing returns nor upper bounds to human capital, as growth models assume. It is the constant challenge of maintaining capital complementarities in a world of incomplete and rapidly changing knowledge.

Journal

The Review of Austrian EconomicsSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 8, 2004

References

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