W. Brian Arthur




































Book: Increasing Returns and Path Dependence in the Economy


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by W. Brian Arthur, Univ. of Michigan Press, 1994.

Foreword by Kenneth J. Arrow.

This is a collection of Brian Arthur's papers on increasing returns, written between 1982 and 1992. Most of the articles explore the dynamics of markets under increasing returns--in particular the role of positive feedbacks in locking in a single dominant product, technology or company.

These papers introduced or dealt with many of the concepts central to the tech economy: lock-in, path dependence, network externalities, role of small historical events, positive feedbacks, competing technologies, and winner-take-all .

There is one popular article from Scientific American, and the much cited 1989 Economic Journal article on Competing Technologies. Other topics covered are regional economics under increasing returns, learning in the economy, nonlinear Polya processes, and the history of economic thought on increasing returns.

Some of these articles are downloadable from this website's papers page.

Here is the preface to the book. And here is Kenneth Arrow's foreword to the book.

Here is a review by Steven Durlauf from Complexity, 1 no. 3, 1996.

"This beautifully written collection of essays represents one of the fundamental contributions to economic science in the last two decades." Complexity, 1 no. 3, 1996

"One of the most important works on economics in the past 50 years," Fast Company,1998

"One of the most important theoretical contributions in recent years" Moneta e Credito, 1995.