Open Access

Austrian Economics and the Evolutionary Paradigm*


This article discusses the challenges raised by the inclusion of evolutionary elements in the theories of Carl Menger, Joseph Schumpeter, and Friedrich Hayek. Each adopted an idiosyncratic position in terms of method of inquiry, focus, and general message. The breadth of the topics and phenomena they cover testifies to the great variety of interpretations and potential uses of evolutionary concepts in economics. Menger, who made no reference to Darwin’s theory, advanced an “organic” view of the emergence of social institutions. Schumpeter elaborated an original theory of industrial development based on the recurrent emergence and dissemination of innovations. Hayek adopted the biological notion of group selection and made it the central element in his theory of cultural evolution and the rise of the free market. The chapter concludes with a preliminary evaluation of the possible role that evolutionary theorizing might play in the future development of Austrian economics.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Philosophy, other