Evolutionary and Radical Approaches to Economic Reform

Peter Murrell , Economics of Planning 25(1) , 79-95 , January 1992.

At the end of 1989, most economists agreed that the optimal approach to socialist economic reform involved immediate destruction of old institutions and rapid conversion to capitalist arrangements. This approach is called the radical one. The evolutionary approach has always offered an alternative program of reform. The paper discusses the recent breakdown in the radical consensus and provides a general overview of the evolutionary approach. Two conceptually distinct sets of evolutionary theories are examined-evolutionary economics and conservative political philosophy. Drawing upon these existing theories, the paper builds the rudiments of a single philosophy of evolutionary reform. The evolutionary and radical schemes are then compared. Their different implications for the speed of reform, the use of the old institutions, the magnitude of single elements of reform, and the use of theory are highlighted.

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