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Patterned Variation: The Role of Psychological Dispositions in Social and Institutional Evolution

Ekkehart Schlicht

Discussion Papers in Economics from University of Munich, Department of Economics

Abstract: The new institutional economics has one of its roots in evolutionary thinking. The idea is that there is competition among organizational forms. Some forms spread faster than others and thereby displace and eventually destroy the less well adapted forms. In the end, the most 'efficient' organizational formation will survive, where 'efficiency’ is a social analogue for biological fitness. The process is predominately envisaged as a process of what I am going to term 'blind evolution': a combination of random variation and selection. The idea of randomness is put into question. If evolution is is to be able to work successfully on complex organisms or organizations, it is necessary that variation occurs in a patterned fashion with systematically correlated changes. Once the importance of patterned variation is established, it must be asked where the patterns come from. It will be argued that, for the purpose of the social sciences, these patterns are generated by psychological regularities, both cognitive and emotional. Features of patterning are discussed (channeling by constraints, hitchhiking, radiation, founder effects, irreversibly, functional shifts, evolutionary detours, punctuation).

Keywords: evolution; evodevo; evo-devo; variation; selection; institutional economics; social psychology; channeling by constraints; hitchhiking; radiation; founder effects; irreversibly; functional shifts; evolutionary detours; punctuation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B15 B25 B52 D02 D23 E14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-evo and nep-hme
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