Habit, decision making, and rationality : comparing Veblen and early Herbert Simon

Abstract : The article aims to contribute to the convergence between institutional and neo-Schumpeterian evolutionary economics. It intends to help unify the behavioral foundations of these two strands of thought by returning to the original views of their main historical inspirations. It thus proposes a comparative analysis of the theory of human behavior developed by Thorstein Veblen and Herbert Simon, respectively. The article notably discusses how Simon’s early work links together the notions of habit, rationality, and the decision-making process, and explores the extent to which his views are consistent with, complementary to, or divergent from Veblen’s. The article highlights several commonalities between Simon and Veblen’s views on habits. However, Simon departs from Veblen in developing a dual model of human behavior which clearly differentiates habit-based from decision-based behaviors. The article argues that neo-Schumpeterian evolutionary economists should go beyond this binary model and build on the pragmatist-Veblenian approach, in which these two dimensions are intimately entangled. This process could allow the economists in question to take advantage of the most valuable insights of institutional economics regarding the interactions between individual choices and habits and institutions.
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Olivier Brette, Nathalie Lazaric, Victor Vieira da Silva. Habit, decision making, and rationality : comparing Veblen and early Herbert Simon . Journal of Economic Issues, Newfound Press, 2017, 51 (3), pp.567-587. ⟨http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00213624.2017.1353866⟩. ⟨10.1080/00213624.2017.1353866⟩. ⟨halshs-01310305⟩

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