On the Economics of Expertise

  • Pier Paolo Saviotti


Within economics the term expertise indicates the capacity to perform one or more activities which are economically valuable because, for example, they produce an output for which there is a demand. Also, such an expertise must not be too easy to acquire or appropriate, otherwise its economic significance would be very limited. In other words, the value of expertise depends on the cost of acquiring it and on the value of the outcomes that it can produce. Also, expertise confers a certain degree of power, be it market power or political power. In the past economics has recognized the important role of expertise, learning and knowledge, but without investigating the mechanisms of their generation and diffusion. In this respect, the approach of economics with respect to expertise, learning and knowledge has been similar to that used for technology. Like technology, expertise, learning and knowledge were considered exogenous to the economic system, that is having economic consequences but not economic causes. Today there is a growing tendency to consider technology as knowledge, but this has not always been the case. Technology has either been considered embodied in capital goods or, if disembodied, the mechanisms by which knowledge is created and used were not taken into account at all. The gradual introduction of knowledge and of learning into economic thought has taken place in the last 30 years, largely as a consequence of studies on innovation and on technological change.


Technological Change Evolutionary Theory Technical Change Tacit Knowledge Path Dependency 
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© Pier Paolo Saviotti 1998

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  • Pier Paolo Saviotti

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