The Past and Future of Evolutionary Economics : Some Reflections Based on New Bibliometric Evidence
The modern wave of ‘evolutionary economics’ was launched with the classic study by Richard Nelson and Sidney Winter (1982). This paper reports a broad bibliometric analysis of ‘evolutionary’ research in the disciplines of management, business, economics, and sociology over 25 years from 1986 to 2010. It confirms that Nelson and Winter (1982) is an enduring nodal reference point for this broad field. The bibliometric evidence suggests that ‘evolutionary economics’ has benefitted from the rise of business schools and other interdisciplinary institutions, which have provided a home for evolutionary terminology, but it has failed to nurture a strong unifying core narrative or theory, which in turn could provide superior answers to important questions. This bibliometric evidence also shows that no strong cluster of general theoretical research immediately around Nelson and Winter (1982) has subsequently emerged. It identifies developmental problems in a partly successful but fragmented field. Future research in ‘evolutionary economics’ needs a more integrated research community with shared conceptual narratives and common research questions, to promote conversation and synergy between diverse clusters of research.