Publication Details

Pol, E. (2012). Reconciling the invisible hand and innovation. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, IN PRESS


It is generally agreed that Adam Smith invoked the Invisible Hand to send the message to posterity that a free-market economy is the best form of economic organization. Strictly speaking, the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith is a conjecture about the virtues of a free-market economy. There are three claims in this paper concerning the interpretation of the Invisible Hand conjecture. First, the neoclassical interpretation engenders a conceptual confusion -identified here as the 'double paradox' of the Invisible Hand. Second, the interpretation of Adam Smith's conjecture on the beneficial effects of the free-market economy cannot -and should not- be confined to the production and consumption of existing products. Failure to distinguish the Invisible Hand Theorem from the Invisible Hand Doctrine distorts thinking about Adam Smith's message, creating the misconception that the Invisible Hand passage excludes business innovation. Third, the central message conveyed by Invisible Hand is to be read in the context of modern evolutionary economics.



Link to publisher version (DOI)