Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 263–279 | Cite as


  • Kurt DopferEmail author
  • John Foster
  • Jason Potts


Building on the ontology of evolutionary realism recently proposed by Dopfer and Potts (forthcoming), we develop an analytical framework for evolutionary economics with a micro-meso-macro architecture. The motive for reconception is to make clear the highly complex and emergent nature of existence and change in economic evolution. For us, the central insight is that an economic system is a population of rules, a structure of rules, and a process of rules. The economic system is a rule-system contained in what we call the meso. From the evolutionary perspective, one cannot directly sum micro into macro. Instead, we conceive of an economic system as a set of meso units, where each meso consists of a rule and its population of actualizations. The proper analytical structure of evolutionary economics is in terms of micro-meso-macro. Micro refers to the individual carriers of rules and the systems they organize, and macro consists of the population structure of systems of meso. Micro structure is between the elements of the meso, and macro structure is between meso elements. The upshot is an ontologically coherent framework for analysis of economic evolution as change in the meso domain - in the form of what we call a meso trajectory - and a way of understanding the micro-processes and macro-consequences involved. We believe that the micro-meso-macro analytical framework can greatly enhance the focus, clarity, and, ultimately, power, of evolutionary economic theory.


Micro Meso Macro Rule Agent Trajectory 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of St GallenSt. GallenSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of EconomicsUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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