Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy

Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy

Agile Decision-Making in a Turbulent World

Graham Room

Graham Room argues that conventional approaches to the conceptualisation and measurement of social and economic change are unsatisfactory. As a result, researchers are ill-equipped to offer policy advice. This book offers a new analytical approach, combining complexity science and institutionalism.


Graham Room

Subjects: economics and finance, institutional economics, innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy


CHAPTER 1 1. Throughout this book I use the term ‘policy-maker’ to mean public policy-makers. I use other terms, for example, ‘business leader’ elsewhere. 2. Of course, even ‘first movers’ typically make their moves only in response to a perceived opportunity or threat. CHAPTER 2 1. There is a range of good texts for the general reader – and for the social scientist approaching these matters for the first time – which can be consulted for elaboration of the exposition offered here (Waldrop, 1992; Buchanan, 2000; Johnson, 2001; Ball, 2004). The paradigm is admittedly somewhat inchoate, even among the Sante Fé community (Cowan, 1994), as perhaps befits any lively and novel enterprise; nevertheless the elements highlighted here would probably command general assent. A more comprehensive review might also have included some discussion of ‘autopoeisis’ as elaborated by Maturana and Luhmann, for example, or some of the ‘softer’  strands  of complexity writing in cultural studies: see, for example, Cilliers (1998). 2. This should be distinguished from internal economies of scale associated with large-scale production, allowing enterprises to produce at lower unit cost, as their fixed costs are spread across a larger volume of output. 3. Myrdal’s original use of this term (Myrdal, 1944) was by reference to the dynamics of urban disadvantage faced by African-Americans: the self-reinforcing process of social exclusion with which this book began. Young was heavily influenced by Veblen: see, for example, Veblen (1898). 4. Arguments for punctuated equilibria are sometimes seen as being in tension with Darwin’s own account...

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