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By Neil Hart (auth.)
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Extra info for Alfred Marshall and Modern Economics: Equilibrium Theory and Evolutionary Economics
His thinking on the nature of economic evolution is captured directly in the following passage from the Preface to the Principles: Economic Evolution is gradual. Its progress is sometimes arrested or reversed by political catastrophes: but its forward movements are never sudden; for even in the Western world and in Japan it is based on habit, partly conscious, partly unconscious. And though an inventor, or an organizer, or a ﬁnancier of genius may seem to have modiﬁed the economic structure of a people almost at a stroke; yet that part of his inﬂuence, which has not been merely superﬁcial and transitory, is found on inquiry to have done little more than bring to a head a broad constructive movement which had long been in preparation.
It cannot be emphasised strongly enough that the difﬁculties associated with the long-period analysis in the Principles were not related to issues arising from an attempt to reconcile increasing returns with competitive long-period equilibrium conditions. Competition did not correspond to any speciﬁc market structure, as this was necessarily transient in nature. Rather, it related to the behavioural relationships existing between market participants, and its role was to enable individuals to freely reveal their own capabilities and participate in the beneﬁts thereby derived.
This position is stated more succinctly in Schumpeter’s references to Marshall’s theory: . . but Marshall, although embracing within his wide horizon every one of the elements essential to a distinct theory of‘dynamics,’ still Marshall’s Economic Biology and Equilibrium 37 forced all of them into a frame substantially static. The present writer believes that some of the difﬁculties and consequent controversies about Prof. Pigou’s argument in his Economics of Welfare are traceable to the same source .
Alfred Marshall and Modern Economics: Equilibrium Theory and Evolutionary Economics by Neil Hart (auth.)