Beyond Foraging: Evolutionary Theory, Institutional Variation, and Economic Performance

Journal of Institutional Economics, Vol. 3, pp. 265-291, December 2007

46 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2008

See all articles by Alexander J. Field

Alexander J. Field

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department

Abstract

Institutions affect economic outcomes, but variation in them cannot be directly linked to environmental factors such as geography, climate, or technological availabilities. Game theoretic approaches, based as they typically are on foraging only assumptions, don't provide an adequate foundation for understanding the intervening role of politics and ideology. Nor does the view that culture and institutions are entirely socially constructed. Understanding what institutions are and how they influence behavior requires an approach that is in part biological, focusing on cognitive and behavioral adaptations for social interaction favored in the past by group selection. These adaptations, along with their effects on canalizing social learning, help to explain uniformities in political and social order, and are the bedrock upon which we build cultural and institutional variability.

Keywords: institutions, economics and biology, group selection, game theory and experimental economics, economics and psychology

JEL Classification: A12, B15, B52, C7, N01, Z13

Suggested Citation

Field, Alexander J., Beyond Foraging: Evolutionary Theory, Institutional Variation, and Economic Performance. Journal of Institutional Economics, Vol. 3, pp. 265-291, December 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1095944

Alexander J. Field (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA California 95053
United States
408 554 4348 (Phone)
408 554 2331 (Fax)

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