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

Schumpeter’s main theoretical contributions were largely forgotten in the three decades following his death, a time period simultaneous to the phase of strong economic growth that lasted until the mid-1970s. This stage of growth was mainly explained by Keynesian and post-Keynesian theory, where microeconomic dynamics were of little relevance (Kaldor, Thirwall, Pasinetti, Robinson, Davidson, Eichner, among others). The emergence of a new paradigm centered on information and communication technologies and the co-existence of economic stagnation and inflation at the beginning of the 1970s led to a crisis of Keynesian and post-Keynesian theory, which could no longer respond to this new global scenario. Orthodox economic thought reemerged in this time period, maintaining that fighting inflation and generating sustainable economic growth would require deregulating and liberalizing markets and dismantling the welfare state. Independently, and in contrast with the mainstream schools of thought predominant since the end of the 1970s, evolutionary and neo-Schumpeterian ideas began to emerge again in a more summarized and polished fashion. Some of the factors that explain this reemergence include: i) the need to incorporate the phenomenon of creative destruction to explain the coordination and self-transformation of productive systems and ii) the absence of convergence in economic development processes.

This article has described a variety of ways in which Schumpeterian thought is still current. These dimensions constitute the main contribution of evolutionary and neo-Schumpeterian thought. Among these are the following: i) the role of creative destruction as an endogenous process that produces economic development in unstable conditions, generating heterogeneity in both company behavior and performance, ii) the role of entrepreneurs and leaders as bearers of change motivated by the search for quasi-rents, iii) the importance of the competition process for the emergence and diffusion of innovation and iv) the metaphor of the circular economy reclaimed by Nelson and Winter to illustrate cases where routines do not vary, by Saviotti to explain conditions in which variety does not increase and by Antonelli to reflect situations of equilibrium where incentives to innovate are absent.

Beyond this legacy, evolutionary neo-Schumpeterian thought includes new dimensions that Schumpeter himself did not consider. For example, Nelson and Winter add a layer of complexity to the dynamic idea of development and competition based on innovation sustained by the way in which companies creatively react, by introducing the idea of innovation as a change in routines and emphasizing the process of incremental innovation. Later, other authors, such as Malerba and Orsenigo, would propose a strong association between the profile of productive specialization and the intensity and possible emergence of creative destruction, which gave rise to the idea of the technological regime. Another contribution of evolutionary theory has been the importance of both knowledge (Cowan, David and Foray, 2000; Johnson, Lorenz and Lundvall, 2002) and capacity building (Teece and Pisano, 1994; Cohen and Levinthal, 1990) in developing innovation processes, aspects that were barely mentioned in Schumpeter’s creh. Saviotti and Pyka (2010) give demand and the creation of variety, either related or unrelated to the profile of specialization, a key role in the processes of competition and structural change (Metcalfe, 2010).

Finally, some other questions missing from Schumpeter’s school of thought have yet to be incorporated into evolutionary and neo-Schumpeterian theory. For example, the key role assigned to innovation in the competitive process marginalizes other elements such as hierarchy and power, the non-technological dimension of products and services and the function of income distribution in processes of creative destruction. For the majority of evolutionary and neo-Schumpeterian theorists, the idea that innovation in and of itself is the motor for the development process and the progress of modern societies still prevails. The reality is though, that innovation only fulfills this role if is transformed into improved performance for companies in both social and economic development.

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Published in Mexico, 2012-2018 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
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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