Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 341–366 | Cite as

Evolutionary developmental economics: how to generalize Darwinism fruitfully to help comprehend economic change

  • Pavel PelikanEmail author
Regular Article


Darwinism is shown possible to generalize fruitfully to help comprehend economic change by drawing on evolutionary developmental biology (“evo–devo”)—its recent version, less concerned with replication of genes than with genomic instructing of development of organisms. The result is a conceptual model with multilevel applications, generalizing development as instructed self-organizing with inputs from environments, and evolution as experimental search for instructions making the development successful. Its economic interpretation suggests to unite several existing fields into evolutionary developmental economics, where economic change can be studied comprehensively as development instructed by actual institutional rules, intertwined with the evolution of these rules.


Instructed development Evolution of instructions Multilevel evolution Evolution of institutional rules Development of economies 

JEL Classification

A10 D02 K10 O10 P50 Z10 



I thank Christian Cordes, Jan Gecsei, Geoff Hodgson, Philippe Huneman, Deborah Rogers, Hiroki Sayama, Jack Vromen, Ulrich Witt, an anonymous reviewer, and the participants of seminars at Centre pour la Recherche en Epistemologie Appliquée and Institut des Systèmes Complexes, Paris Île-de-France, for inspiring objections and suggestions; Andrea Pelikan Conchaudron for lessons on molecular biology; René Doursat for calling my attention to the evolutionary developmental biology and helpfully commenting my attempts to generalize it for applications in economics; and the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic for support under grant 402/09/1991. The usual caveat applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Institutional EconomicsPrague University of EconomicsPragueCzech Republic

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