The 2007 Veblen-Commons Award Recipient: Richard R. Nelson

By Hodgson, Geoffrey M. | Journal of Economic Issues, June 2007 | Go to article overview

The 2007 Veblen-Commons Award Recipient: Richard R. Nelson


Hodgson, Geoffrey M., Journal of Economic Issues


RICHARD R. NELSON was born in 1930 in New York City. Author of many books and articles, he is one of a few leading and inspirational scholars who are responsible for a revival in evolutionary approaches to economics in the last thirty years. For half a century, he has been a tireless critic of the static, unrealistic and impractical dispositions of neoclassical theory.

Nelson received his B.A. at Oberlin College in 1952 and his Ph.D. at Yale in 1956. Subsequently he held various jobs including a Senior Staff Member at the Council of Economic Advisors under the Kennedy Administration in 1961-1963. From 1968 to 1986, he was a professor at Yale University. He then moved to the former institutionalist stronghold of Columbia University and stayed there until he became Professor Emeritus in 2005. He has written many academic articles and has been the author or editor of several books.

His most famous book, An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change, was co-authored with Sidney Winter and published in 1982. It has inspired an entire new generation of evolutionary economists and played a major role in the development of an evolutionary alternative to neoclassical theory.

Nelson has stressed the supreme importance of knowledge in economic evolution. …

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