Institutions and progress

J. S. Metcalfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An insistent theme in Richard Nelson's work is that of 'capitalism as an engine of progress'. In this paper I explore this idea through a sequence of his writing, distinguishing progress as outcome from progress as instituted process. This leads to a deeper issue within this. Nelsonian theme, namely the incompatibility between progress and equilibrium. I argue that evolving systems are ordered and coordinated but they are never in equilibrium. Capitalism is restless-it always generates change from within and the proximate source of this progressive tendency is the uneven accumulation of knowledge. Capitalism is restless because knowledge is restless.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-586
Number of pages25
JournalIndustrial and Corporate Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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