From commodity-based to knowledge-based economics: Why and how evolutionary economics matters

Prof. Kurt Dopfer, Department of Economics of University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

In its core the lecture is on the big turn from conventional commodity-based economics dealing with equilibria in commodity space premised on rational agents to knowledge-based economics that puts explanatory variables thus far kept exogenous center stage.  The hallmark of mainline economics from Ricardo to Debreu is statements about quantities of commodities, and subject of theorizing is to make law-like statements about their relationships. Knowledge brings into economic theory a semantic moment featuring quality leaving it heretic in the received framework.  It is argued that coordination, complex emergent structure and evolutionary change can be explained only with reference to the concept of knowledge - which may be operationalized on the basis of a unified rule theory. The distinction is made between modes of explanation that are based on evolutionary mechanisms on the one hand and modes referring to semantic modalities like cladistics and rule taxonomy of commodities and agents on the other hand.  Schumpeter is seen as a proto-revolutionary of the present knowledge turn. Emphasis in the lecture will be given to the explanatory mode of mechanisms but the semantic turn in its significance of shaping the future course of economics will be demonstrated as well. Reference work that may serve as baseline and departure point for discussion is Dopfer, K. (2011), Economics in a cultural key: complexity and evolution revisited, The Elgar Companion to Recent Economic Methodology", ed. J. B. Davis and D. W. Hands, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 329-340; extending the scope of discussion, coauthored works with Jason Potts , John Foster and Andreas Pyka.

About the speaker

Kurt Dopfer is an Austrian-born Swiss economist, since 1980 Professor at the Department of Economics of University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, chair of international economics and development theory, Co-director of Institute of Economics, member University Senate, Emeritus, researcher of Swiss National Science Foundation. He also served as a visiting professor of economics at the International Christian University, Tokyo, Technical University of Dresden, Economics University of Vienna, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, and as a Commission Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Kurt Dopfer published several books and numerous articles in twelve languages, has been a member of the editorial board of several journals, such as the Journal of Evolutionary Economics, and served as a board member of various scientific associations, e.g., the International Joseph A. Schumpeter Society, European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy and the Ausschuss für Evolutorische Ökonomik of the German Economic Association.

Kurt Dopfer is best known for several contributions in evolutionary economics, such as the axiomatization of evolutionary economic approach (Dopfer, 2001, 2005). In his recent publication, Dopfer (2004) argues that a concept of homo oeconomicus has to be replaced by the concept of rule-based agent, homo sapiens oeconomicus.

Kurt Dopfer with co-authors (Dopfer, Foster, Potts, 2004) has also espoused the introduction of meso economics mesoeconomics, which deals with an intermediate level of analysis in economics, apart from the micro- (individual) and macro- (aggregate) level. The meso-level is where collective behavioural patterns originate, are diffused and retained as technological or institutional regimes. Meso works as an intermediary linking micro-level interactions and macro-level dynamics.

Venue: Room A0.24 (SBE, TS 53)

Date: 26 April 2017

Time: 12:00  CEST