Evolutionary theory

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Evolutionary Theory



Alternate name(s)

Theory of Natural Selection

Main dependent construct(s)/factor(s)

Survival, organism form and function, organizational growth and survival

Main independent construct(s)/factor(s)

Environmental conditions, mutations, adaptability

Concise description of theory

The theory of evolution as presented by Darwin (1859) holds that variability exists in the inheritable traits possessed by individual organisms of a species. When this variability results in differences in the ability of each organism to reproduce in their environment, those traits that improve reproductive ability will become dominant in the species. Species are thus evolving, under environmental pressure, such that their ability to reproduce is improved rather than evolving toward to some pre-established endpoint. Framed in this manner, evolution serves to explain change at the level of the species and not at the level of the individual. Since the work of Darwin (1859), evolutionary theory has been applied to a broad range of situations involving change processes. For instance, the field of computer science has seen the introduction of evolutionary algorithms such as genetic algorithms.

Extensions and adjustments have also been introduced, with punctuated equilibrium (Eldredge and Gould, 1972) being one of the most prominent. Within organizational theory, Nelson and Winter (1982) have presented selection as operating at the level of the firm with some firms surviving the competitive environment while others perish.

Ein-Dor and Segev (1993) make the distinction between evolutionary and evolutionist theories. Evolutionary theories concern themselves with the mechanisms that produce change while evolutionist theories address the direction of change and its final destination. Despite the importance of this distinction, the term evolution is generally applied in both types of discussions.

Modified from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_algorithm

Diagram/schematic of theory


Originating author(s)

Darwin (1859); Dawkins (1989); Eldredge and Gould (1972); Gould (1982); Gould (2002); Mayr (1982); Nelson and Winter (1982)

Seminal articles

Darwin, C. (1859). On the origin of the species by means of natural selection : Or, the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. --. London: J. Murray.

Dawkins, R. (1989). The selfish gene (New ed.). Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

Eldredge, N., & Gould, S. J. (1972). Punctuated equilibria: An alternative to phyletic gradualism. In T. Schopf (Ed.), Models in paleobiology (pp. 82-115). San Francisco: Freeman, Cooper and Co.

Gould, S. J. (2002). The structure of evolutionary theory. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Gould, S. J. (1982). The panda's thumb : More reflections in natural history. New York ; London: Norton.

Mayr, E. (1982). The growth of biological thought : Diversity, evolution, and inheritance. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press.

Nelson, R. R., & Winter, S. G. (1982). An evolutionary theory of economic change. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Originating area

Biology, ecology

Level of analysis

Individual, Group, Firm, Industry, Society

IS articles that use the theory

Ahire, S., Greenwood, G., Gupta, A., & Terwilliger, M. (2000). Workforce-constrained preventive maintenance scheduling using evolution strategies. Decision Sciences, 31(4), 833-859.

Anderson, P., & Tushman, M. L. (1990). Technological discontinuities and dominant designs: A cyclical model of technological change. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(4), 604-633.

Antonelli, C. (1998). Localized technological change, new information technology and the knowledge-based economy: The european evidence. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 8(2), 177-198.

Armbruster, T., & Kipping, M. (2002). Strategy consulting at the crossroads: Technical change and shifting market conditions for top-level advice. International Studies of Management & Organization, 32(4), 19-42.

Arnott, D. (2004). Decision support systems evolution: Framework, case study and research agenda. European Journal of Information Systems, 13 (4), 247-259.

Bresnahan, T. F., & Greenstein, S. (2001). The economic contribution of information technology: Towards comparative and user studies. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 11(1), 95-118.

Cantwell, J., & Santangelo, G. D. (2002). The new geography of corporate research in information and communications technology (ICT). Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 12(1/2), 163-197.

Cheon, M. J., Grover, V., & Sabherwal, R. (1993). The evolution of empirical research in IS: A study in IS maturity. Information & Management, 24(3), 107-119.

Costello, N. (1996). Learning and routines in high-tech SMEs: Analyzing rich case study material. Journal of Economic Issues, 30(2), 591-597.

Cragg, P. B., & King, M. (1993). Small-firm computing: Motivators and inhibitors. MIS Quarterly, 17(1), 47-60.

Cragg, P. B., & Zinatelli, N. (1995). The evolution of information systems in small firms. Information & Management, 29(1), 1-8.

David, R. K. (1979). Strategic, tactical, and operational planning and budgeting: A study of decision support system evolution. MIS Quarterly, 3(4), 1-19.

De, P., & Hsu, C. (1986). Adaptive information systems control: A reliability-based approach. Journal of Management Information Systems, 3(2), 33-51.

Dekleva, S., & Drehmer, D. (1997). Measuring software engineering evolution: A rasch calibration. Information Systems Research, 8(1), 95-104.

Ein-Dor, P., & Segev, E. (1993). A classification of information systems: Analysis and interpretation. Information Systems Research, 4(2), 166-204.

Geng, X., Whinston, A. B., & Zhang, H. (2004). Health of electronic communities: An evolutionary game approach. Journal of Management Information Systems, 21(3), 83-110.

Gregoire, J., & Lustman, F. (1993). The stage hypothesis revisited: An EDP professionals' point of view. Information & Management, 24(5), 237-245.

Hollenberg, D. (1986). Information processes. I. hierarchical information systems. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 37(5), 300-306.

Houdeshel, G., & Watson, H. J. (1987). The management information and decision support (MIDS) system at lockheed-georgia. MIS Quarterly, 11(1), 126-140.

Hull, R., Coombs, R., & Peltu, M. (2000). Knowledge management practices for innovation: An audit tool for improvement. International Journal of Technology Management, 20(5,6,7,8), 633-656.

King, W. R., & Teo, T. S. H. (1997). Integration between business planning and information systems planning: Validating a stage hypothesis. Decision Sciences, 28(2), 279-308.

Liang, T., & Jones, C. V. (1987). Design of a self-evolving decision support system. Journal of Management Information Systems, 4(1), 59-82.

Lycett, M., & Paul, R. J. (1999). Information systems development: A perspective on the challenge of evolutionary complexity. European Journal of Information Systems, 8(2), 127-135.

Maansaari, J., & Iivari, J. (1999). The evolution of CASE usage in finland between 1993 and 1996. Information & Management, 36(1), 37-53.

Madnick, S. E., & Wang, Y. R. (1988). Evolution towards strategic applications of databases through composite information systems. Journal of Management Information Systems, 5(2), 5-22.

Piccoli, G., Brohman, M. K., Watson, R. T., & Parasuraman, A. (2004). Net-based customer service systems: Evolution and revolution in web site functionalities. Decision Sciences, 35(3), 423-455.

Porra, J. (1999). Colonial systems. Information Systems Research, 10(1), 38-69.

Pyka, A. (2002). Innovation networks in economics: From the incentive-based to the knowledge-based approaches. European Journal of Innovation Management, 5(3), 152-163.

Rozenshtein, D., & Minsky, N. (1986). Controlling the use and evolution of database systems: A prolog-based approach. Journal of Management Information Systems, 3(1), 5-31.

Shakun, M. F. (1991). Airline buyout: Evolutionary systems design and problem restructuring in group decision and negotiation. Management Science, 37(10), 1291-1303.

Teo, T. S. H., & King, W. R. (1997). Integration between business planning and information systems planning: An evolutionary-contingency perspective. Journal of Management Information Systems, 14(1), 185-214.

Todd, P. A., McKeen, J. D., & Gallupe, R. B. (1995). The evolution of IS job skills: A content analysis of IS job advertisements from 1970 to 1990. MIS Quarterly, 19(1), 1-27.

Williams, C., & Mitchell, W. (2004). Focusing firm evolution: The impact of information infrastructure on market entry by U.S. telecommunications companies, 1984-1998. Management Science, 50(11), 1561-1575.

Links from this theory to other theories

Evolutionary theory provides an important foundation for fit theories such as Task-technology fit and is related to Diffusion of innovations theory theory to the extent that DOI offers a theory of change. Resource-based view of the firm of the firm is partially based on evolutionary economics as expressed by authors such as Nelson and Winter (1982). It is also related to Punctuated equilibrium theory and Knowledge-based theory of the firm.

External links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution, Wikipedia outlines the theory of evolution as it relates to life sciences

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_%28disambiguation%29, Wikipedia general summary of evolution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_evolution, Wikipedia entryon sociocultural evolution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_economics, Wikipedia entry on evolutionary economics

http://www.business.aau.dk/evolution/, Extensive resources related to evolutionary economics

http://www.springer.com/sgw/cda/frontpage/0,,5-0-70-1100692-detailsPage=journal%7Cdescription%7Cdescription,00.html, The Journal of Evolutionary Economics home page

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-intro-to-biology.html, An introduction to evolutionary biology including some references

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/index.html, PBS extensive resources on evolutionary biology

Original Contributor(s)

Brent Furneaux

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