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Il corso sarà tenuto in inglese, se richiesto.

The Major phenomena which the economic disciplines ought to explain, and how they try to do it


The aim of the course is to present the main building blocks of economies as complex evolving systems, addressing the objects of analysis, the methods, and the implications under both the positive and the normative perspectives.

The course will be structured in thee parts. The first part of the course delves into the analysis of technological change, knowledge and learning as distinct traits of the behaviour of the firms. Attention will be devoted to the role of power and division of labour to understand organizations. The second part moves from the micro to macro level, addressing the process of long-run growth, comparatively discussing the role of capabilities versus incentives, with a focus on the first-industrial revolution. The role of trade in shaping the trajectories of economic development will be briefly discussed.

The third part moves toward the analysis of the interplay between technological change, income distribution and macro-economic dynamics. It will present the notion of compensation mechanisms to study technological unemployment, the emergence of personal and functional inequalities, the role of institutions in mitigating inequalities,  the impact of the latter in explaining fluctuations and crises as demand-led phenomena.

Part I: Technological change and theory of the firms

1. Introduction to change and coordination

2. Technology as a recipe: knowledge and organizational routines

3. Interactions inside organizations: division of labour and power

Part II: Processes of economic development

1. Technology and economic growth

2. Capabilities vs incentives: a focus on the first industrial revolution

3. Trade and economic development

Part III: Technology, income distribution and macroeconomic dynamics

1. Technology and unemployment

2. At the roots of inequality

3. Fluctuations and crises


The course will consist in a series of frontal lectures. Active interaction is strongly encouraged. The material will consist in a set of selected scientific contributions presenting cutting-edge and state-of-the-art analyses and results. Slides will be provided as complementary material.


The course intends to provide a general theoretical background for the understanding of current economic development. In so doing it does not require tight prerequisites. Economists will take advantage from their knowledge on microeconomics, macroeconomics, economic development and international trade. Non-economists in humanities will take advantage from their knowledge of political philosophy and sociology of work,  while non-economists in hard-science will take advantage from their knowledge of complex and interacting systems, self-organizations, hierarchical structures.


Il corso si svolgerà dal 19 marzo al 29 maggio 2020

19 March,  17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota

20 March,  17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota

26 March,  17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota 

27 March,  17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota

23 April,  17.30-19-30 Lezione in modalità remota

24 April,  17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota

29 April, 17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota

30 April, 17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota

21 May,  17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota 

22 May,  17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota

28 May,  17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota

29 May,  17.30-19.30 Lezione in modalità remota

5 June ore 17.30 discussion forum (TBC) Lezione in modalità remota NEW!


Readings (non exhaustive list)

 1. G.Dosi and M.E. Virgillito (2017): “In order to stand up, you must keep cycling: Change and coordination in complex evolving economies”, Structural Change and Economic Dynamics,

2. G. Dosi, M. C. Pereira, M.E. Virgillito (2017): “The footprint of evolutionary processes of learning and selection upon the statistical properties of industrial dynamics”, Industrial and Corporate Change, Volume 26 (2), pp 187-210.

3. G.Dosi and M.E. Virgillito (2019): “Whither the evolution of the contemporary social fabric: new technologies and old socio-economic trends”, International Labour Review

4. Winter, S. (1964). “Economic” natural selection” and the theory of the firm”. Yale Economic Essays 4.1, 224–272

5. Kirman, A. (1992). “Whom or what does the representative individual represent?” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 6.2, 117–136.

6. Kaldor, N. (1940). “A Model of the Trade Cycle”. The Economic Journal 50, 78–92. Boyer, R. (1988).“Technical change and theory of ‘Régulation’”. In: Technical change and Economic theory. Ed. by G. Dosi, C. Freeman, R. Nelson, G Silverberg, and L. Soete. Pinter Publisher, London and New York, 67–94.

7. Dosi, G., M. C. Pereira, A. Roventini, and M. E. Virgillito (2018c). The effects of labour market reforms upon unemployment and income inequalities: an agent-based model. Socio-Economic Review 16(4), 687–720.

8.   Freeman, C. and L. Soete (1994). Work for All or Mass Unemployment? Computerised Technical Change into the 21st Century. London and New York: Pinter Publisher.

9. Jaumotte, F. and C. Buitron (2015). Inequality and labor market institutions. IMF Discussion Note SDN/15/14, International Monetary Fund.

10. Timmer, M. P., A. A. Erumban, B. Los, R. Stehrer, and G. J. de Vries (2014). Slicing up global value chains. Journal of Economic Perspectives 28(2), 99–118.



The exam will consist in the preparation of individual thematic essays. A discussion forum will be held at the end of the course to collectively present the content of the thematic essay.

1° Appello 24 giugno 2020

2° Appello 7 luglio 2020

Gli elaborati dovranno essere consegnati non oltre il 7 luglio

Maria Enrica Virgillito

Maria Enrica Virgillito

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna

Classe : Scienze Tecnologie e Società

Ambito : Scienze Sociali

Periodo: Semestre II

Anno accademico: 2019-2020

Luogo : Pavia- Sede Iuss Palazzo del Broletto

Durata : 25 ore