Paradigms and novelty in economics: The history of economic thought as a source of enlightenment

Wilfred Dolfsma*, Patrick J. Welch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Over time, economics has experienced paradigm shifts, and there is every reason to think this will continue. In economics, as in the development of technological knowledge, paradigms do not emerge from nowhere, but build on precursors, possibly from other fields. Our understanding of current economic thinking can be enhanced by paying greater attention to the role of paradigms and by using concepts such as myth, plot structure, and cultural endowment, which are typically given greater attention by literary analysts than by economists, to study paradigms. Here we argue that together these can help us better understand how ideas from other times and fields may be combined with our own to generate better research and publications, and that a greater awareness of the history of economics may well be an excellent vehicle for enhancing that understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1106
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Journal of Economics and Sociology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

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