"Structural Crises of Adjustment, Business Cycles and Investment Behaviour"

1988. With C. Freeman “Structural Crises of Adjustment, Business Cycles and Investment Behaviour”, in G.Dosi et al. eds. Technical Change and Economic Theory, London: Francis Pinter, pp. 38-66.   

1998. Reprinted in H. Hanusch ed. The Economic Legacy of Joseph Schumpeter, Elgar, London.

Download: StructuralCrisesOfAdjustment.pdf (2.13mb)

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction
2. Areas of agreement in business cycle theory
3. Keynes      
     According to Schackle      
     Siegenthaler comments
4. A taxonomy of innovations      
     (i) Incremental innovations      
     (ii) Radical innovations      
     (iii) Changes of 'technology system'       
     (iv) Changes in 'techno-economic paradigm' ('technological revolutions')
5. 'Key factor' inputs and change of techno-economic paradigm      
     (i) Clearly perceived low and rapidly falling relative cost      
     (ii) Apparently almost unlimited availability of supply over long periods      
     (iii) Clear potential for the use or incorporation of the new key factors in many products and processes throughout the economic system  Table 3.1 6. Diffusion of new techno-economic paradigms and institutional change
7. The information technology paradigm
8. The structural crisis of the 1980s 
9. References


This chapter discusses the revival of interest in long-term fluctuations in the growth of the world economy and particularly in the Schumpeterian theory of business cycles. After reviewing the common ground in relation to investment behaviour and business cycles, it goes on to discuss the failure of Keynesian economics to come to terms with the influence of technical change. The central theme of the chapter is that certain types of technical change - defined as changes in 'techno-economic paradigm' - have such widespread consequences for all sectors of the economy that their diffusion is accompanied by a major structural crisis of adjustment, in which social and institutional changes are necessary to bring about a better 'match' between the new technology and the system of social management of the economy - or 'regime of regualtion'. Once, however, such a good match is achieved a relatively stable pattern of long-term investment behaviour can emerge for two or three decade. This point is illustrated with respect to the rise of information technology. It is argued that this pervasive technology is likely to heighten still further the instability of the system before a new, more stable pattern of growth is attained.
The resurgence of interest in Schumpeter's ideas (e.g. Elliott, 1985) is associated with the slow-down in the growth of the world economy in the last decade. Whereas during the prolonged post-war boom of the 1950s and the 1960s there was some tendency to assume that the general adoption of Keynesian policies would prevent the recurrence of the any depression comparable to that of the 1930s and would smooth out small fluctuations, this confidence was somewhat undermined by the deeper recessions of the 1970s and 1980s and the return of much higher levels of unemployment. Not surprisingly, this has led to renewed interest in long-cycle or long-wave theories, which make analogies between the 1930s and 1980s. This chapter concentrates on the explanation of these deeper structural crises of adjustment, without making any assumptions about fixed periodicity or statistical regularity.

We start by looking at the common ground in the analysis of business cycles. We shall quote extensively from Samuelson for several reasons. First of all, he is probably the most authoritative neo-Keynesian economist, and one who commands respect through the profession. Secondly, business cycles have always been one of his central professional interests. Thirdly, as author of the most widely read economics textbook in the Western World, he provides in the successive edition of this book a convenient synthesis of the changing state of the art (Samuelson and Nordhaus in the most recent and thorough revision, i.e. the 12th edition) 



Published 2002

'...the book fills an important gap in the literature on business cycles and innovations. I most strongly commend it to all those attempting to understand the past and future evolution of technology and the economy.'

Christopher Freeman, Emeritus Professor, SPRU,
University of Sussex, UK

'...Carlota Perez shows us that historically technological revolutions arrive with remarkable regularity, and that economies react to them in predictable phases. Her argument provides much needed perspective not just on history, but on our own times. And especially on our own information revolution.'

W. Brian Arthur, Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico

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Technological Revolutions Financial bubbles Installation Period Frenzy Deployment Period Golden Ages Dual strategy Techno‑economic paradigms Neo‑Schumpeterian Respecialization Synergy Turning Point Future markets Knowledge society Green growth Maturity Full global development Globalization Sustainability Socio‑economic development Paradigm shifts Irruption Market hyper‑segmentation