Routines, Genes and Program-Based Behavior

Posted: 13 Nov 2010

See all articles by Jack J. Vromen

Jack J. Vromen

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE)

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

It is argued that the ‘routines as genes’ and the ‘routines as skills’ analogies are misleading in several respects. Neither genes, nor skills, nor routines program behavior, if this is taken to involve, first, that they do so in a way that excludes conscious, deliberate choice and, second, that they determine behavior. On a proper understanding of ‘gene’, ‘skill’ and ‘routine’, conscious, deliberate choice is not ruled out when genes, skills or routines are operating. Once we shift from analogy to ontology, genes and skills appear as basic constituents of routines. Routines cannot exist unless specific genes and skills are in place in the individuals involved in the operation of the routines. Both genes and skills can be said to act unconsciously as ‘If ..., then ...’ programs. Even complete knowledge of genes and skills of the individuals involved would fall far short of predicting individual and firm behavior, however. What would still be missing, it is argued, is knowledge about organization, the specific ways in which genes, skills and individuals are connected with one another, and knowledge of context-dependence, what environmental stimuli activate specific chains of genes, skills and individuals.

Keywords: routines, genes, skills, program-based behavior, proximate causes of individual and firm behavior

JEL Classification: A12, B41, B52, D21, D23

Suggested Citation

Vromen, Jack J., Routines, Genes and Program-Based Behavior (2006). Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Vol. 16, No. 5, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1706746

Jack J. Vromen (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
EIPE Office, Room H5-23
3000 Dr Rotterdam
Netherlands

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