Since the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, a number of scholars have explored the possibility of expanding Darwinism beyond the domain of biology to fields of study as diverse as language, psychology, economics, behaviour and culture. In the last half century, some of these scholars have generalized Darwinian principles to study socio‐economic change, with developments being made in the study of technological innovation, organizational diversity, multi‐level co‐evolution, memetics and organizational change. However, these developments have been hampered not only by disagreement between the scholars themselves, but more broadly by criticisms from a diverse range of established scientific traditions within economics and organization science. In light of these developments, the aim of this paper is to provide a timely critical review of the use of the Generalized Darwinist approach to the study of socio‐economic change. In the process, key disagreements between the different conceptual and empirical approaches taken by scholars, and key criticisms against using a Generalized Darwinist approach are highlighted. Building on this review, the paper outlines some key challenges and opportunities facing the Generalized Darwinist approach in the study of technological innovation, organizational change and multi‐level co‐evolution. The paper concludes with outlines for future research, and in particular further conceptual and empirical developments.
International Journal of Management Reviews – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 2011
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