GROE Workshop on Evolutionary Thinking and Capitalism

Last week, I attended a workshop organized by the Group for Research into Organizational Evolution (GROE) of the University of Hertfordshire in the UK.  A link to the workshop page is here, with further links to the GROE homepage. I was particularly pleased with two organizational elements of the workshop. First, the invited speakers presented uniformly thoughtful and thought-provoking presentations on exploiting evolutionary thinking in the economics and sociology of firms and markets. Secondly, each presenter was allotted about 3/4 of an hour for the prepared remarks, followed by equal time for discussion with the 30+ delegates in the room. As a consequence of these two elements, the quality of discourse in the formal sessions and during meals/tea was high.

I was joined in this venue by a colleague from the University of Missouri, André Ariew. He is philosopher of science, with particular expertise in evolutionary biology. We are contemplating joint work on entrepreneurship and organizational evolution. can you spot the philosopher in the photo?

GROE presenters and delegates

While none of the papers was specifically aimed at entrepreneurship, there was much subtext about the experimental nature of capitalistic economies that is grounded in Schumpeter, Hayek, and others for whom individual action is a matter of interest. Significant in this was Stan Metcalfe’s excellent presentation that made his excellent book, Evolutionary Economics and Creative Destruction, come alive for me. The book was written for/from a series of papers that Stan delivered as the Graz Schumpeter Lectures. His recent thinking on the inevitability of losers when entrepreneurs “win” extends and refines the lectures. Fun stuff. We will wait to see if the papers get posted to the GROE website or compiled in another form.

You can find an interview of the Director of GROE, Geoffrey Hodgson, by one of the invited speakers, the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson at the This View of Life blogsite. DSW also interviewed another speaker, Eric Beinhocker, about his presentation about modeling complex economic phenomena using agent-based models of awe-inspiring scale and scope.

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