Nelson e Winter_an Evolutionary Economic Change_1982_livro

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RICHARDR.NELSONANDSIDNEYG. WINTER &MJEW(Q)ILlUJ1rll(Q)M&m2f1rIHIJE(Q)m2f (Q)JFJECC(Q)M(Q)ItWllCCCCIHI&MCGIE THEBELKNAPPRESSOFHARVARDUNIVERSITYPRESS ANDLONDON,ENGLAND Copyright 1982 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College Allrights reserved Prin tedin the United Sta tes of America LIBRARYOFCONGRESSCATALOGINGINPUBLICATIONDATA Nelson, RichardR. An evolutionarytheory of economic change. Bibliography:p. Includesindex. 1.Economics.2.Economic development. 3.Organizational change.I.Winter,Sidney G. II.Title.III.Title:Economic change. HB71.N44338.9'00181-13455 AACR2 ISBN0-674-27228-5(paper) To KATHERINE GEORGIE MARGO JEFF LAURA KIT Preface WEBEGANTHISBOOKover a decade ago.Our discussions of the promise and problems of evolutionary modeling of economic change date back years before that.For both of us,this book representsthe culmination of workthat began with our dissertations. Ourinitialorientationsweredifferent.ForNelson,thestarting point was a concern with the processes of long-run economic development.Earlyon,thatconcernbecamefocusedontechnological change as the key driving forceand on the role of policy asan influence on the strength and direction of that force.For Winter, the early focuswas on thestrengths and limitations of the evolutionary argumentsthathadbeen put forwardassupport forstandardviewsof firmbehavior. This soon broadened toinclude the generalmethodologicalissuesof "theory and realism"in economics,the contributions of other disciplines to the understanding of firmbehavior, and reconsiderationoftheevolutionaryviewpoint asapossibleframeworkforamorerealisticeconomictheory of firmandindustrybehavior.FrOlnthe earliest daysof our acquaintance,the existenceof significantoverlapsandinterrelationsbetweentheseareasofresearchinterestwasapparent.Nelson'sstudiesof thedetailedprocessesof technologicalchangeledhim toappreciatetheuncertain, groping, disorderly, and error-ridden character of those processesand the difficulty of doing justice to that reality within the orthodox theoreticalscheme.In Winter's case,astudy of the determinants of firmspendingonresearchanddevelopmentformedtheempirical . arenain which it firstbecameapparentthat much of firmbehavior VlllPREFACE couldbemorereadilyunderstoodasareflectionofgeneralhabits and strategic orientations coming fromthe firm's past than asthe result of adetailed survey of the remotetwigs of the decision tree extending intothe future. It wasnot,however,untilthe collaborationthatledtothisbook waswellunderwaythatwerealizedthatitspurposeandpromise were well defined by two relationships between our areas of interest. First, among the many obstacles tounderstanding the role of technologicalchangeineconomiclife,animportantsubset arisefromthe intellectual constraints associatedwith the treatment of firmand industrybehavior thatisnowstandardineconomictheory.Second, amongthemanybenefitsthatmayderivefromatheoreticalapproach that reconciles economic analysis with the realities of firmdecision making, the most important relate to improved understanding of technological change and the dynamics of the competitive process. Our cooperative intellectual endeavor commenced when we were both atthe RANDCorporationin Santa Monicain the 1960s.Many peopleatthatremarkablystimulatingandintellectuallydiversified placeinfluencedour thinking.BurtonKleindeservesspecialmention.Heconveyedtousabodyoftruththathasbeenrecognized many times in the history of ideas, but that somehow always stands in need of rediscovery,reinterpretation, and persuasive illustration. Creative intelligence, in the realm of technology as elsewhere, is autonomous and erratic, compulsive and whimsical.It does not lie placidly within the prescriptive and descriptive constraints imposed by outsiderstothe creative process,bethey theorists,planners,teachers,orcritics.Toprogresswiththetaskofunderstandingwhere creativethought is likelyto lead the world,it istherefore helpfulto recognize first of all that the task can never be completed. Our evolutionary theory of economic change is in this spirit;it is not an interpretationof economicrealityasareflectionof supposedly constant "given data/' but ascheme that may help an observer who is sufficiently knowledgeable regarding the facts of the present to see a little furtherthrough the mist that obscures the future. WecommittedourselvestowritingthisbookafterNelsonhad moved on to Yaleand Winter to Michigan.For a few years the problemsoflong-distancecoauthorshipimposedsignificantcostsin terms of the rate of progress of the collaborative effort, but there were also some benefits in the form of opportunities to test ideas in forums providedbytwodifferentuniversities.(Of course,theairlinesand thetelephonecompanyderivedsubstantialbenefitsfromthearrangement,too.) With Winter's move toYalein 1976,the communication costs felland we began to take more seriously the idea of pullingtheworktogetherintheformofabook.Major effortsinthat I ixPREFACE directionweremadein1978and1979.Asour families,colleagues, andeditorsare wellaware,the"almostdone"phase oftheproject lastedalmostthree years. Inthisprotractedprocessofresearchandwriting,wereceived supportandassistanceinavarietyofformsandfromavarietyof sources.We will attempt here toacknowledgethe main elements of our indebtedness under several major headings,but areuncomfortably awarethat some of thelistsarefarfromcomplete. Our greatest intellectual debts are to Joseph Schumpeter and Herbert Simon. Schumpeter pointed out the right problem-how tounderstandeconomicchange-andhisvisionencompassedmanyof the important elements of the answer.Simon provided a number of specific insights into human and organizational behavior that are reflectedin our theoreticalmodels;but,most important, his work encouragedusintheviewthatthereismuch moretobe saidonthe, problem of rational behavior in the world of reality than can be adequately statedin thelanguage of orthodox economic theory. Financial support for our work came from several sources. A major grant fromthe National Science Foundation,through its Division of SocialSciences,providedimportantmomentumatanearlystage. Someofthemost recentresearchthatisreportedinthisbookwas also supported by the NSF,under a grant from the Division of Policy Research and Analysis. The Sloan Foundation, through a grant to the AppliedMicroeconomicsWorkshopatYale,wasamajor sourceof support for our research during the interval between the NSF grants. Inaddition, we received financialand other support fromthe Institute of Public Policy Studies at Michigan andthe Institution for Socialand PolicyStudies at Yale.Thedirectorsof these organizations during the period in question-J. Patrick Crecine and Jack Walker at IPPS,Charles E.Lindblomat ISPS-deserve special thanks for their encouragement and for their skill at t h ~tricky business of promoting intellectual contact amongthesocialscience disciplines. In our efforts todevelop computer simulation models as one type of formal evolutionary theory, we have depended heavily on the contributions of a series of skilled programmers and research assistants. Wehad thegood fortune toattracttothis roleindividuals whobecame intellectually engaged in the substance of our undertaking, and whocontributed,alongwiththeirtechnicalexpertise,suggestions and criticisms regarding the underlying economics. The first of these wasHerbertSchuette;hiscontributionstomuchoftheworkreported in Chapter 9 led to his inclusion as a coauthor of the principal previouspublicationofthatwork.Wewouldliketoacknowledge those contributions again here. Stephen Homer and Richard Parsons didmostof theoriginalprogramming forour simulationmodelof XPREFACE Schumpeteriancompetition,andcontributedanumberofhelpful suggestionstoitsformulation.LarrySpan cakehelpedustransfer that model tothe Yale computer. Abraham Goldstein and Peter Reiss followedinhisfootstepsaskeepersof thebeast atYale,feedingit andtraining it inresponsetoour requests and assisting in much of theanalysisthat helped usunderstandits behavior. Many scholarshave listenedtoour presentations,readour drafts and articles, and provided advice, encouragement, and criticisms.In Yaleseminars and conversations,we have learned particularly from SusanRoseAckerman,DonaldBrown,RobertEvenson,LeeFriedman,EricHanushek,JohnKimberly,RichardLevin,RichardMurnane, Guy Orcutt, Sharon Oster, Joe Peck, John Quigley, and Martin Shubik.During Winter's years at Michigan, he received similar benefitsfrominteractionswithRobertAxelrod,MichaelCohen,Paul Courant,J.PatrickCrecine, JohnCross,EverettRogers,Daniel Rubinfeld,PeterSteiner,JackWalker,andKennethWarner.Agreat many friends and colleagues elsewhere have also given us the benefit oftheirreactionsandsuggestionsononeoccasionoranother.We wishtothankparticularlyRichardDay,PeterDiamond,Avinash Dixit,ChristopherFreeman,MichaelHannan,JackHirshleifer, JamesMarch,KeithPavitt,AlmarinPhillips,MichaelP o r ~ e r ,Roy Radner,Nathan Rosenberg,Steve Salop,A.Michael Spence,David Teece,and Oliver Williamson. As our research progressed, we reported on it in articles published in TheEconomic Journal,TheQuarterly Journal of Economics,Economic Inquiry,ResearchPolicy,TheBell Journalof Economics,and TheAmericanEconomic Review.We thank the editorial boards of these journals forpermissiontouseparts of our earlier articlesin chapters of this book; specific citations are provided in the chapters involved. We are similarlyindebted toNorth-HollandPublishing Co.forpermission touse previously published material in Chapter 12. Threeindividuals-Richard Levin,Richard Lipsey, and B.Curtis Eaton-did usthe great favorof reading large portions of our draft manuscript and making detailed comments. We are greatly indebted tothem,andwishtotakeespecialcaretoexoneratethemfromresponsibility forthefinalresult.Many other peopleprovideduseful commentsonportionsofthemanuscript;weparticularlywantto thank Katherine Nelson and Georgie Winter. The preparation of the last typed version of the manuscript