Volume 44, Number 174,
July-September 2013
Schumpeter and the Post-Schumpeterians:
Old and New Dimensions of Analysis
Gabriel Yoguel, Florencia Barletta
and Mariano Pereira

Since the publication of Nelson and Winter’s (1982) book, economists have begun to rediscover Schumpeter’s ideas. This has given rise to important contributions to evolutionary and neo-Schumpeterian thought, centered on: i) the connection between innovation, routine and dynamic capacities (Nelson and Winter, 1982; Teece and Pisano, 1994), ii) the spread of innovation and the role of the market (Nelson and Winter, 2002; Metcalfe, 2010; Dopfer, 2006; Malerba and Orsenigo, 197) and iii) the connection between creative destruction and the emergence of innovation from the perspective of complexity (Antonelli, 2011; Witt, 2002; Metcalfe, 2010).

Innovation, Routine and Dynamic Capacities

Nelson and Winter (1982) reclaim Schumpeterian thought and identify themselves as evolutionary theorists because they are neo-Schumpeterians. They start from the Schumpeterian idea of circular flow, of capitalism as a machine of progressive change and the idea of rationality of agents, already present in cds. They draw parallels between the ted notion of circular flow and the idea that firms operate based on routines, considered as the collection of sub-routines carried out by members of the organization with different skills and repertoires.15 In this context, they assimilate the Schumpeterian idea of innovation as new combinations with the perspective of innovation as a change in routines. They believe that the results of the innovative process cannot be predicted and the presence of uncertainty as to these results does not contradict the idea that organizations have well-defined routines to support and direct their innovative efforts. In this sense, innovation can even be a new combination of sub-routines already used in the organization. The execution of these sub-routines is manifest in the multiple messages issued and received, which must be interpreted and coordinated by members of the organization. This involves a process of codification and knowledge integration to build an organizational memory. This knowledge integration is both contextual and systemic, and is manifest in a routine state of functioning. One way in which routine can contribute to the emergence of innovation is as a response to useful questions formulated as puzzles or in response to anomalies linked to prevailing routines. In this way, problem-solving can give rise to the later development of new routines and/or new combinations of sub-routines for the innovation process. In this search for solutions to problems, the heuristics used by an organization are key. These refer to the principles or devices that contribute to reducing the average time needed to find a solution. In summary, a significant contribution from Nelson and Winter (1982) is that modeling a firm is modeling its routines.

On the other hand, the “routinization” of the r+d department is positive in Nelson and Winter, because it allows companies to make decisions in changing contexts. For Schumpeter, it is negative, because he sees it as a reduction in the importance of entrepreneurial functioning and the processes of creative destruction.

Other authors, such as Teece and Pisano (1994), incorporate the concept of dynamic capacities and go far beyond Schumpeter, who merely alluded to the importance of the accumulation of capacities in the creh in generating creative reactions. In contrast to the static vision of capacities, these authors refer to the specific capacities of companies to reconfigure their assets in light of changing technologies and markets.

In this sense, the generation of Schumpeterian quasi-rents requires a continuous process of capacity building and innovation development. The dynamic capacities approach is therefore consistent with the Schumpeterian idea that the emergence of innovative products and processes arises from the combination of new knowledge. According to Schumpeter, companies constantly seek to create new combinations while rival firms try to develop new capacities or improve the ones they have to imitate the new combinations. The strategic problem facing most companies is developing innovations that will be difficult to copy and that give rise to the generation of quasi-rents. To do so, both capacity building and organizational change are key. Nelson and Winter, as well as Teece and Piano, differ from Schumpeter, because they actually delve into the black box of companies and analyze their routines and dynamic capacities.

15 The idea of routine refers to regular behavioral patterns of companies that allow for the identification of the capacities of an organization. They separate routines from organizational memory, where cumulative knowledge resides, as a remedy to organizational conflict, control and replication.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 195 October-December 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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