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A new niche emergence theory for economics

Economics - like ecology – autocatalytically emerges and strongly depends on cooperation. A new niche emergence theory lays out a model of emerging economic niches.

A group of evolutionary biologists, ecologists, economists, and complex system analysts led by Dr. Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, Associate Professor at the Tomsk State University in Russia and Research Fellow at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Austria, proposes a new niche theory arguing that economics - like ecology – autocatalytically emerges and strongly depends on cooperation.

To illustrate niche emergence in economics, consider the development of the PC market, which has enabled the emergence of further new markets for the mouse, CD, and joysticks, as well as that of e-commerce (Fig. 1). The emergence of new economic niches, like those in ecological networks, are difficult to predict a priori and are potentially infinite. Niche emergence is an aspect still underconsidered in current economic theories. The red arrows indicate the emergence of new economic niches and, therefore, of new potential markets.


Fig 1. An illustrative example of niche emergence in economics


According to niche emergence theory, in ecology (and now also in economics), the emergence of new species facilitates the emergence of new niches (Fig 2).


Fig 2. A schematic model of niche emergence


Read more about the theoretical importance of niche emergence for economics at ScienceX: Economic growth models are profoundly inadequate because they ignore niche emergence, new research argues.



Cazzolla Gatti, R., Koppl, R., Fath, B.D., Kauffman, S., Hordijk, W.,Ulanowicz, R.E.
On the emergence of ecological and economic niches.
J Bioecon (2020).

Edited by KLI Communications Officer Lynn Chiu