Organization, Evolution, Cognition and Dynamic Capabilities

B. Nooteboom

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Using insights from ‘embodied cognition’ and a resulting ‘cognitive theory of the firm’, I aim to contribute to the further development of evolutionary theory of organizations, in the specification of organizations as ‘interactors’ that carry organizational competencies as ‘replicators’, within industries as ‘populations’. Especially, I analyze how, if at all, ‘dynamic capabilities’ can be fitted into evolutionary theory. I propose that the prime purpose of an organization is to serve as a cognitive ‘focusing device’. Here, cognition has a wide meaning, including perception, interpretation, sense making, and value judgements. I analyse how this yields organizations as cohesive wholes, and differences within and between industries. I propose the following sources of variation: replication in communication, novel combinations of existing knowledge, and a path of discovery by which exploitation leads to exploration. These yield a proposal for dynamic capabilities. I discuss in what sense, and to what extent these sources of variation are ‘blind’, as postulated in evolutionary theory.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • evolutionary economics
  • organization
  • cognition
  • dynamic capabilities


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