Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 69–84 | Cite as

The economic implications of exaptation

  • Nicholas DewEmail author
  • S. D. Sarasvathy
  • S. Venkataraman


Accounts of economic change recognize that markets create selective pressures for the adaptation of technologies in the direction of customer needs and production efficiencies. However, non-adaptational bases for technological change are rarely highlighted, despite their pervasiveness in the history of technical and economic change. In this paper the concept of exaptation -a feature co-opted for its present role from some other origin - is proposed as a characteristic element of technological change, and an important mechanism by which new markets for products and services are created by entrepreneurs. Exaptation is a missing but central concept linking the evolution of technology with the entrepreneurial creation of new markets and the concept of Knightian uncertainty.


Exaptation Evolution Adaptation Entrepreneurship Knightian uncertainty 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Dew
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. D. Sarasvathy
    • 2
  • S. Venkataraman
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate School of Business and Public PolicyNaval Postgraduate SchoolMontereyUSA
  2. 2.R.H. Smith School of BusinessUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.Darden Graduate School of Business AdministrationUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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