Date of Award


Degree Type



Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs

First Advisor

Bowen, William

Subject Headings

Regional planning, Economic development, Endogenous growth (Economics), Evolution, inventive idea, evolutionary theory, economic development


The importance of knowledge creation in economic development has been enormously emphasized in recent years. Inventions are the first step for innovations that leads to further economic growth. Moreover, when new ideas are created endogenously from within a regional system, rather than from outside, they may lead to internally-generated economic growth and development. Accordingly, this study aims to understand 'the process of generating creative ideas' for endogenous regional economic growth. On the basis of data that reflects the perspectives of actual inventors, the researcher adopted both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The qualitative methods were oriented toward phenomenology and were based upon interviews designed to understand how inventors personally experience the process of invention. The quantitative methods were based upon a mail-out survey of inventors and an in-class survey of students. The surveys were designed to test hypotheses about Darwinian theories of creative thought processes. Interview results provide evidence of both Darwinian theory and Lamarckian theory. Survey results reveal that students' perspectives on invention are more consistent with Darwinian theory than are the perspectives of inventors. From these empirical results, the Darwinian hypothesis for the generation of creative ideas is disconfirmed however these results do not definitely prove Darwinian theory to be incorrect. From a Darwinian point of view, endogenous economic growth led by new ideas takes the form of "blind-variation and selective-retention." Economic development policy based on Darwinian theory should encourage people to generate various ideas and select one of them at the local and individual level. This can also be applied to regional policies that focus on various industries and academic fields. In contrast, Lamarckian theory supports top-down approach and focuses on few promising industries and academic fields that are designed from centralized planning