Richard R. Nelson's research while affiliated with Columbia University and other places

Publications (202)

Article
Twenty years ago, we introduced the history friendly modeling approach to formally study industrial dynamics. In this paper, we look retrospectively at the results that the history friendly literature has achieved so far and what are the challenges ahead of us. We present the main principles, methods, and building blocks of the approach, and then w...
Book
Full-text available
Cambridge Core - Entrepreneurship and Innovation - Modern Evolutionary Economics - by Richard R. Nelson
Article
Since the early 1990s industrial organization economists and scholars of business organization have come to recognize more clearly than before the often very great differences among competing firms in the capabilities they have to do various things, and the central role these capability differences play in determining the winners and losers in indu...
Chapter
An evolutionary perspective on the nature of economic activity requires a theory of human behavior and cognition that highlights human creativity and innovativeness, while at the same time recognizing that in many arenas of economic life change is slow and more routine aspects of behavior obtain. It is proposed that Herbert Simon’s conception of hu...
Article
Full-text available
An evolutionary perspective on the nature of economic activity requires a theory of human behavior and cognition that highlights human creativity and innovativeness, while at the same time recognizing that in many arenas of economic life change is slow and more routine aspects of behavior obtain. It is proposed that Herbert Simon’s conception of hu...
Book
The disruptive impacts of technological innovation on established industrial structures has been one of the distinguishing features of modern capitalism. In this book, four leading figures in the field of Schumpeterian and evolutionary economic theory draw on decades of research to offer a new, 'history-friendly' perspective on the process of creat...
Article
While biology often has been identified as the field of science where over the past half century progress has been most dramatic, physics continues to be the widely held model of what a field of science should aim to be like. The ideal hallmarks are quantitative characterization of the subject matter studied and mathematical specification of theory...
Chapter
The notions of technological paradigms and technological trajectories are central to the interpretation of innovation as an evolutionary process and to the understanding of invariances in the knowledge structure and in the ways technological knowledge accumulates and, together, what distinguishes different fields and different periods of technologi...
Book
This book brings together a collection of empirical case studies featuring a wide spectrum of medical innovation. While there is no unique pathway to successful medical innovation, recurring and distinctive features can be observed across different areas of clinical practice. The case studies of this volume examine why medical practice develops so...
Article
Without doubt, good numbers that characterize sharply and completely the phenomena being studied, and precise explanation of these phenomena that can be expressed mathematically, are tremendous advantages for a field of science. But not all fields of science are lucky enough to be able to achieve these features. And when they are not, nonetheless t...
Article
A broad sketch of an evolutionary theory of long run economic development is presented in this article, considering the basic processes and structures involved. The problematic orientation of Neoclassical growth theory is discussed, pointing out its limited macroeconomic perspective, the weak consideration of technological change and of demand, the...
Article
Contemporary microeconomics has witnessed a resurgence of behavioral, institutional, and evolutionary critiques of the neoclassical mainstream that came to dominate the field during the 1980s. Today's critiques and proposals for reform have a long tradition in economics. While synthesizing the intellectual history of these challenges, this article...
Article
Scholars from a wide variety of disciplines who have studied technological advance in some detail have converged on the proposition that technological advance needs to be understood as proceeding through an evolutionary process characterized by multiple search efforts, deep intertechnological differences in the ways potential opportunities are tagg...
Article
The ideology of how economic activity is organized in capitalist economies is sharp and simple — markets. However, in reality, economic activities in capitalist economies are organized in a variety of different ways, market organization prominent among them but not totally dominating. The basic argument of this paper is that capitalist economies...
Article
While Schumpeter’s broad theory of how capitalist economies worked articulated in his Theory of Economic Development received strong attention in his lifetime, it was neoclassical economic theory that took hold of the profession in the last half of the twentieth century, and today few economists even read Schumpeter. The first part of this essay co...
Article
Since the time of Marshall economists have used the constructs of demand and supply curves in their explanation and analyses of how markets determine prevailing prices and the allocation of resources among different lines of economic activity. Today almost all expositions and interpretations of price theory take a neoclassical perspective. This pap...
Article
The conventional wisdom regarding the source of progress in medical practice highlights the role of basic scientific research into the nature of disease pathologies. This perspective neglects the important role of two other sources of progress in medicine. One is the advance of technologies that have enabled the development of new modalities of tre...
Article
My brand of evolutionary economics recognizes, highlights, that modern economies are always in the process of changing, never fully at rest, with much of the energy coming from innovation. This perspective obviously draws a lot from Schumpeter. Continuing innovation, and the creative destruction that innovation engenders, is driving the system. The...
Article
Full-text available
This article claims that catching up is a learning process that requires a long time and often differs significantly across economic sectors in the factors leading to success or failure. We support these claims by examining the major factors affecting catching up by several countries in six industries: India and Brazil for pharmaceuticals; Korea, C...
Article
While over the past two centuries technological advance has enabled remarkable increases in worker productivity and the general standard of living of much of the world's population, progress has been much greater in certain industries and areas of human need than in others. For example, while great advances have been made in preventing or curing a...
Article
In this article we propose that medical practice evolves as a result of progress along three different pathways: improvement in the ability to develop effective medical technologies, learning in medical practice, and advances in biomedical scientific understanding of disease. The relative importance of these three pathways varies from case to case,...
Article
In this essay I argue that modern evolutionary economic theory provides a much more adequate framework for understanding the economic development process than the neoclassical theory that for many years has dominated mainline economic thinking. I begin my argument by laying out the basic differences between the two theoretical points of view. I the...
Article
In recent years, the threat of global climate change has come to be seen as one of the most serious confronting humanity. To meet this challenge will require the development of new technologies and the substantial improvement of existing ones, as well as ensuring their prompt and widespread deployment. Some have argued that the urgency of the situa...
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Full-text available
The research agendas of psychologists and economists now have several overlaps, with behavioural economics providing theoretical and experimental study of the relationship between behaviour and choice, and hedonic psychology discussing appropriate measures of outcomes of choice in terms of overall utility or life satisfaction. Here we model the rel...
Article
David Teece discusses with Richard R. Nelson the contributions of Alfred D. Chandler Jr to a variety of areas in business history, economics, and management. Topics include Chandler's understanding of organizational capabilities, management leadership, technology, strategy, and the theory of the business firm. The discussion also reviews Chandler's...
Article
Full-text available
This paper aims to discuss factors affecting catch-up in six different sectoral systems -autos, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, software, semiconductor, agro-food- in several different countries: China, India, Brazil, Korea, Taiwan and others. The research presented here is part of a larger program of studies concerned with the examination of...
Chapter
There are two complementary ways to introduce the analysis of the institutions and policy shaping industrial development. First, one may just build on the simple empirical observation that no example can be found in history of a process of development nested in an environment even vaguely resembling the institution- free tale of economic interactio...
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Full-text available
This statement is issued by a group of economists and scientists which met at Stanford University on October 18, 2008 to discuss the role of research and development (R&D) in developing effective policies for addressing the adverse potential consequences of climate change. We believe that climate change is a serious issue that governments need to a...
Chapter
(…) Die Verlangsamung des Wirtschaftswachstums in allen entwickelten Industrieländern seit den 1970er Jahren, Japans Aufstieg zur wirtschaftlichen und technologischen Großmacht, der relative Niedergang der Vereinigten Staaten und verbreitete Sorgen in Europa, hinter diesen beiden Ländern zurückzubleiben, haben zu einer wahren Flut von Stellungnahme...
Article
Not all problems will yield to technology. Deciding which will and which won't should be central to setting innovation policy, say Daniel Sarewitz and Richard Nelson.
Article
This work prepared for B. Hall and N. Rosenberg (eds.) Handbook of Innovation, Elsevier (2010), lays out the basic premises of this research and review and integrate much of what has been learned on the processes of technological evolution, their main features and their effects on the evolution of industries. First, we map and integrate the various...
Article
In this paper, we explore the effects of alternative policies, ranging from antitrust to public procurement, open standards, information diffusion and basic research support on the dynamics of two vertically related industries in changing and uncertain technological and market environments. The two industries are a system industry and a component i...
Chapter
This chapter argues that economists are right in seeing 'the right institutions' as the key to economic productivity and progressiveness. But for the argument to be delved deeper, it needs to be recognized that there is a very real challenge; the magnitude of the challenge is only beginning to be understood. The conglomerate of things different eco...
Article
The term “bounded rationality” is used here to connote the reasoning capabilities of an actor who, on the one hand, has a goal to achieve and an at least partially formed theory as to how to achieve it, and on the other hand, that the theory is somewhat crude, likely will be revised in the course of the effort, and that success is far from assured....
Article
It is clear that the power of “technological paradigms” proposed by Dosi ( 1982 ) varies greatly across fields of practice, in the sense that in certain field's progress has been much more rapid than in others where comparable resources have been applied to the effort. This essay explores the factors behind these differences. It proposes that one i...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we present a history-friendly model of the changing vertical scope of computer firms during the evolution of the computer and semiconductor industries. The model is “history-friendly,” in that it attempts at replicating some basic, stylized qualitative features of the evolution of vertical integration on the basis of the causal mec...
Article
Sanjaya Lall saw economic development as an evolutionary process, with technological learning at its heart. This essay lays out the key differences between an evolutionary theory of economic activity and change, and the neoclassical theory as articulated in economic textbooks. It argues that only an evolutionary theory fits what is known about how...
Article
In recent years “institutions” have again become a central focus of economists and other scholars studying the processes of economic growth, and the reasons why nations have differed so greatly in their achievements on this front. However, with few exceptions the exploration of the role of institutions has not been connected with a coherent analysi...
Article
Full-text available
A statement by a group of economists and scientists which met at Stanford University on October 18, 2008 to discuss the role of research and development in developing effective policies for addressing the adverse potential consequences of climate change.
Article
Public research institutions, often but not always connected with universities, have been in the past important elements of the structures supporting economic catch-up. Recent changes in the international economic environment, and the growing scientific basis for contemporary technologies, will make those institutions even more important in the fut...
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The placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized clinical trial (RCT) holds unique advantages for evaluating medical technologies, and figures prominently in clinical drug investigations. However, medicine, like other social sectors, has experienced a movement toward evidence-based practice and policy decision-making that involves the evaluation of...
Article
This chapter has three parts. I begin by endorsing Schumpeter's argument that understanding economic growth ought to be the central focus of economic analysis, and proposing that modern evolutionary economic theory has its central focus just there. In Part II, I turn to the origins of modern evolutionary economic theory as an endeavor inspired by S...
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The history of a number of industries is marked by a succession of eras, associated with different dominant technologies. Within any era, industry concentration tends to grow. Particular eras are broken by the introduction of a new technology which, while initially inferior to the established one in the prominent uses, has the potential to become c...
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In an attempt to improve the quality of educational research, the US Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences has provided funding for 65 randomized controlled trials of educational interventions. We argue that this research methodology is more effective in providing guidance to extremely troubled schools about how to make some pro...
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Full-text available
In this work, meant as an introduction to the contributions of the task force onIndustrial Policies and Development, Initiative for Policy Dialogue, ColumbiaUniversity, New York, we discuss the role of institutions and policies in the process ofdevelopment. We begin by arguing how misleading the “market failure” language canbe in order to assess th...
Article
This paper builds on Teece's, 1986 paper to consider how appropriability conditions affect the ability of an industry, and the economy as a whole, to progress. In particular, it offers a careful discussion of the broader costs and benefits of patenting. Can too much appropriability actually work against the broader interests of society in fostering...
Chapter
This chapter analyzes the changing boundaries of firms in terms of vertical integration and dis-integration (specialization) in dynamic and uncertain technological and market environments. In particular, it addresses the question of stability and change in firms' decisions to 'make or buy' in contexts characterized by periods of technological revol...
Article
According to the advocates of a "Generalized Darwinism" (GD), the three core Darwinian principles of variation, selection and retention (or inheritance) can be used as a general framework for the development of theories explaining evolutionary processes in the socio­economic domain. Even though these are originally biological terms, GD argues that...
Article
Full-text available
In this work, meant as an introduction to the contributions of the task force on Industrial Policies and Development, Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University, New York, we discuss the role of institutions and policies in the process of development. We begin by arguing how misleading the "market failure" language can be in order to asses...
Article
We draw upon historical evidence from several countries and contemporary studies of national innovation systems to argue that indigenous systems of academic training and public research have been in the past important elements of the institutional structures supporting a country’s economic catch up. Recent changes in the international economic envi...
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Examines the way that scientific commons areused in today’s society, and postulatesthat open science is in danger ofbeing forgotten or denied.The theory proposed by many philosophers andsociologists is grounded in the idea that scientists should be motivated by thesearch for understanding, and any practical benefits that arise from theirresearch ar...
Article
According to the advocates of a "Generalized Darwinism" (GD), the three core Darwinian principles of variation, selection and retention (or inheritance) can be used as a general framework for the development of theories explaining evolutionary processes in the socio­economic domain. Even though these are originally biological terms, GD argues that...
Article
Full-text available
The debate on software intellectual property rights (IPRs) has not only highlighted fundamental issues regarding the scheme of protection that software enjoys, it has also pointed out major gaps in the representation of computer programs as economic goods. In this respect, various interpretations of software propose a limited outlook by referring o...
Article
Introduction Scholars of cultural change are explicitly putting forth the argument that the elements of culture they are analysing are subject to evolutionary processes. By ‘culture’, I mean to include both customary ways of doing things and ways of understanding and explaining what the right thing to do is, and why. In most of the arenas I have in...
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Full-text available
Organizational routines are considered basic components of organizational behavior and repositories of organizational capabilities (Nelson & Winter, 1982). They do, therefore, hold one of the keys to understanding organizational change. The article focuses on how the concept of organizational routines can be applied in empirical research to underst...
Book
This handbook looks to provide academics and students with a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the phenomenon of innovation. Innovation spans a number of fields within the social sciences and humanities: Management, Economics, Geography, Sociology, Policy Studies, Psychology, and History. Consequently, the rapidly increasing body of lit...
Article
Scholars studying innovation have proposed several different models of the adoption process. This essay identifies two broad dimensions which differentiate the principal models: the strength of the evidence regarding an innovation's efficacy and the extent of increasing returns. In this essay, we propose that differences across these dimensions map...
Article
Catching up is not a process of exact copying but reflects deliberate and often creative modifications to tailor practice to national conditions, especially those practices associated with institutions and norms within which the physical technologies embodied in productive economic activities and their operation are embedded. These "social technolo...
Book
Since the early 1980s, universities in the United States have greatly expanded their patenting and licensing activities. The Congressional Joint Economic Committee, among other authorities, argued that the increase in university patenting and licensing contributed to the economic boom of the 1990s. Many observers have attributed this trend to the B...
Article
In principle there is a clear divide between science and technology. In practice there isn’t. In principle, while practical inventions can be patented, scientific findings can’t be. In practice, increasingly scientific findings are being patented. The argument of this paper is that this is bad for the advance of science and for the advance of techn...
Article
In this editorial article, we introduce this Special Issue of Research Policy in honour of the late Keith Pavitt, a pioneer in science and technology policy studies and a scholar of innovation. The papers in this Issue were drawn from a widely attended international conference held in Keith's honour in November 2003 and selected according to their...
Article
The last quarter-century has seen the rise of an almost religious belief in the efficacy of market organization of economic activity. While there are strong empirically supported reasons for a bias toward market organization, particularly considering the alternatives, there are many areas of economic, social, and political activity where simple mar...
Article
Modern humans possess an enormous amount of 'know-how' that enables them to do things that early humans could not dream of doing. This paper explores some promising connections between two bodies of empirical research and theorizing that bear on technological know-how and its advance. Cognitive science is concerned with the nature and mechanisms of...
Article
The advance of technology proceeds through an evolutionary process, with many different new departures in competition with each other and with prevailing practice, and with ex-post selection determining the winners and losers. In modern times what gives power to the process is the strong base of scientific and technological understanding and techni...
Article
Richard Sylla, Richard Tilly and Gabriel Tortella, The State, the Financial System and Economic Modernization Walter Eltis, The Classical Theory of Economic Growth Rosemary Crompton, Restructuring Gender Relations and Employment: The Decline of the Male Breadwinner Robert E. Litan and Anthony M. Santomero, BrookingsWharton Papers on Financial Servi...
Article
It long has been understood that the advance of technology, know-how more broadly, has been the wellspring of economic progress. It has been less well recognized that the advance of human know-how has been extremely uneven, very rapid and cumulatively great in some fields, like communications and computation, and quite limited in other fields, like...
Article
National surveys of R&D labs across the manufacturing sectors in the US and Japan show that intraindustry R&D knowledge flows and spillovers are greater in Japan than in the US and the appropriability of rents due to innovation less. Patents in particular are observed to play a more central role in diffusing information across rivals in Japan, and...
Article
When companies decide to engage in technology transfer through exclusive licensing to other firms, they have two basic options: to use standard licensing contracts or to set-up more elaborate partnership-embedded licensing agreements. We find that broader partnership-embedded licensing agreements are preferred with higher levels of technological so...
Chapter
There once was widespread belief that there was a clean divide between science and technology. Science was advanced through a system in which new research results and theories were open public knowledge. Technology was advanced through a system driven by the lure and reward of proprietary rights on new technological knowledge. In fact, science and...
Article
The authors examine the presumption that basic scientific research is most effectively utilized when the findings of that research are openly disseminated without significant restriction, while research with more practical application should be the prerogative of private enterprise. However, many fields, including molecular biology generally and ge...
Chapter
National surveys of R&D labs across the manufacturing sectors in the U.S. and Japan show that intraindustry R&D knowledge flows and spillovers are greater in Japan than in the U.S. and the appropriability of rents due to innovation less. Patents in particular are observed to play a more central role in diffusing information across rivals in Japan,...
Chapter
The debate about how to explain the ‘Asian miracle’ puts a spotlight on a more general theoretical debate about how to explain long-run economic growth. The broader debate is between theorists who, in effect, attempt to explain economic growth in a way that is consistent with the canons of general equilibrium theory, and theorists who argue that gr...

Citations

... In what follows, we investigate the historical evolution of AI (Table 1 in the Appendix summarizes the stylized history of AI) focusing on key factors driving its adoption and diffusion (Malerba et al. 1996a(Malerba et al. , 1996b(Malerba et al. , 1997Zollo and Winter, 2002;Dosi & Nelson 2010) along specific technological trajectories (Dosi, 1982;Nelson and Winter, 1977, 1982, 2002Dosi & Nelson 2016). We build upon the well-established 'history-friendly' tradition (Malerba et al., 1999;Garavaglia, 2010;Malerba et al., 2016;Capone et al., 2019) carrying out an 'appreciative' exploration of AI. The aim is to shed light on the convergence of different trajectories as well as on the interaction of supply, demand and institutional factors shaping the evolution of such technology. ...
... They distinguished between what they called appreciative, and formal theorizing, with the former being close to empirical studies, focused on finding the key variables and mechanisms that might be going on in reality, and the later (formalization) devoted to check the consistency of the theories, sharpening the arguments and highlighting new ways. This methodology is, probably, not fully shared as the unique heuristic by all evolutionary economists, but it has been enormously influential and fruitful up to our days (see the history-friendly models by Malerba et al (2016)). In the next section, after having explored the context and early works of our protagonists, and once we have arrived at the originating sources of evolutionary economics, we are going to analyse the Nelson and Winter (1982) foundational book, An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change. ...
... Neo-Darwinian Synthesis and its possibilities and pitfalls of its extension to the social sciences. I address three possible approaches: Sociobiology (Pinker 2003;Wilson 1975), Generalized Darwinism (Hodgson 2004(Hodgson , 2010 and its relationship to the Veblenian-Schumpeterian synthesis in Economics (Nelson 2018) and Cultural Evolutionism as it has emerged in Economic Anthropology and influenced Macrosociology and International Political Economy. Though Generalized Darwinism and Cultural Evolutionism have significant points in common, Cultural Evolutionism places greater emphasis on the differences between Cultural and Biological Evolution but is certainly broad enough to incorporate the contributions of Veblen and other Original Institutional Economists. ...
... The usefulness of the creative work means the creative work has a purpose, function, and meaning that impacts or direct the wider community (Sternberg 2006;Moran 2010). Being relevant to a specific community means a work does not have to be completely original, but it just needs to be new to that specific group or community (Nelson 2017). It also means that creative potential might stay unrealized if an organization's work environment is not conducive towards creativity (DiLiello and Houghton 2006). ...
... • A set of elements of interest that sustains the development of innovation systems at the sectoral level are related to social networks, capacities of industry actors, the policies that direct their development [65], assimilation and knowledge dissemination [66], and finally, the supply chain [67]. ...
... However, the carbon-extensive sunset industries would fall and bankrupt, depleting investments and loans from financial institutes. Besides all these expected effects, some recognized economists (see Krugman, 2009;Arrow et al., 2008) have argued about the importance of renewable energy research and development (RERD), particularly in the emissions mitigations. ...
... [24] empirically verified such conclusions soon after, finding out how innovations increase demand by creating their demand. Besides, it was clear that heterogeneous shifts of demand played a prominent role in determining technological development (see, e.g., [41]). Between 1980 and 1990 and most recently in 2002, several studies showed, for instance, how innovation reacted elastically to energy prices. ...
... Tal acepção de trajetória tecnológica incorpora a noção de trajetória tecnológica natural (NELSON E WINTER, 1977, p. 59-60;CONTI, 2001, p. 7;DOSI, 1982): a direção em que um padrão tecnológico pode se desenvolver livremente quando (porque) prevalecem condições "normais" de mercado e progresso técnico "normal" (DOSI, 1982;. Nesse caso, se verifica dependência de trajetória (DAVID, 1975) sob condições "equilibradas". ...
... This involves activities such as patenting of academic research (Nelson, 2004;Stiglitz & Wallsten, 1999;Lissoni et al., 2008;Lawson, 2013;Link & van Hesselt, 2019), patent licensing (Agrawal & Henderson, 2002;Sine et al., 2003;Thursby & Thursby, 2002;Thursby et al., 2001), technology transfer (Agrawal, 2001;Barletta et al., 2017;Bozeman et al., 2015;Colyvas et al., 2002;Friedman & Silberman, 2003;Mowery et al., 2004), academic entrepreneurship and the creation of spin-off companies (Rothaermel et al., 2007;Shane, 2004;Toole & Czarnitzki, 2010). In order to realize these activities universities have created, or supported, dedicated facilities and organizations such as Industrial Liaison Offices (ILOs), Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs), and science and technology parks (Siegel, Waldman, et al., 2003). ...
... Hinzu kommen die Biochemie und die Biomedizin (z. B. genverändertes Saatgut), deren Rolle für regionales wirtschaftliches Wachstum und die Erhöhung regionaler Wettbewerbsfähigkeit in der Forschung gut dokumentiert ist (Audretsch 2014;Cooke 2006Cooke , 2016Cooke und Leydesdorff 2006;Mowery et al. 2015;Nelson und Byers 2015), Verbundstoffe und synthetische Materialen, die von den Materialwissenschaften hervorgebracht wurden (Bensaude-Vincent 2016), oder die Neurowissenschaften, die mittels Untersuchungen im fMRI Erkenntnisse zum Zusammenwirken von Geist und Gehirn und damit verbundenen Krankheitsbildern liefern (Berman et al. 2006;Buchan et al. 2016). ...