Autor: Elias Julio Jorge*, Castro Walter**
Institución: *UCEMA, **Friedman Hayek Center for the Study of a Free Society
JEL: B12, O31
Many scholars, especially from other disciplines, have voiced concerns regarding an oversimplified interpretation of Adam Smith's ideas, asserting that it has been exploited to advance a particular free market ideology. This paper uses Galenson's economic framework for creativity to analyze Adam Smith's approach to innovation and some of his main contributions. Galenson distinguishes between two types of innovators in art: the conceptual and the experimental. We show that Smith exhibits all the characteristics of the experimental innovator. His experimental approach is evident in the development of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and many of the ideas developed in The Wealth of Nations. Smith has had a significant influence on important conceptual innovators in economics of the 20th century, such as Paul Samuelson, George Stigler, Robert Lucas and Gary Becker. Conceptual innovators often tend to simplify by using abstraction. Their effort to formalize and incorporate Smith ideas using a conceptual language may explain why there is a simplified understanding of Smith and his contributions.