The Economic Implications of Exaptation

Accounts of economic change recognize that markets create selective pressures for the adaptation of technologies in the direction of customer needs and production efficiencies. However, non-adaptational bases for technological change are rarely highlighted, despite their pervasiveness in the history of technical and economic change. In this paper the concept of exaptation – a feature co-opted for its present role from some other origin – is proposed as a characteristic element of technological change, and an important mechanism by which new markets for products and services are created by entrepreneurs. Exaptation is shown to be a missing but central concept linking the evolution of technology with the entrepreneurial creation of new markets and the concept of Knightian uncertainty.

Journal or Publication:
Saras Sarasvathy
Nick Dew
S. Venkataraman
Year Published
Relevant Principles:
Pilot-in-the-Plane (Control vs. Predict)
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