Table of Contents

Complexity and the Economy

Complexity and the Economy

Implications for Economic Policy

Edited by John Finch and Magali Orillard

The authors examine the causes and consequences of complexity among the broadly economic phenomena of firms, industries and socio-economic policy. The book makes a valuable contribution to the increasingly prominent subject of complexity, especially for those whose interests include evolutionary, behavioural, political and social approaches to understanding economics and economic phenomena.

Introduction: The Scope of Complexity and its Implications for Policy

John Finch and Magali Orillard

Subjects: economics and finance, evolutionary economics, institutional economics


John Finch and Magali Orillard The chapters included in this volume contribute to the established research tradition of complexity in economics and in the economy, and to a growing area within this of developing economic policy (Colander 2000; Foster and Metcalfe 2001). Our aim is to bring together a collection of related arguments and studies about complexity that consider different dimensions of the activity of policy and its consequences in the economy, undertaken within and among different organizations such as governments and companies. In this introductory chapter we seek to sketch out a couple of themes that we think form a basis for making connections across the different contributions. These themes are: (1) assessing what policy is as an activity, given a complexity perspective, and (2) considering how a complexity approach may relate to an evolutionary one. Thorough investigation of these questions is of course beyond the scope of an editorial introduction, but we hope that in raising these questions, we can provide the reader with a basis for considering this collection in the round. A SHORT DISCUSSION OF COMPLEXITY What has come to be known as complexity, broadly interpreted, has a long and illustrious history among economists. Smith’s system of the division of labour and development of knowledge is a self-organizing system of systems (Potts 2001a). Selective connections are crucial to Smith, Marshall, Menger and Hayek in bringing into focus connections between social and economic organization and the development of knowledge (Loasby 1999, 2001). Simon’s substantial contribution is discussed...