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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.

Chapter 5: Landscape of a Prolific Convergence: Fernand Braudel and Institutional Economics

Eyüp Özveren

Subjects: economics and finance, evolutionary economics, institutional economics


Eyüp Özveren INTRODUCTION Fernand Braudel was a dedicated historian who served to change the very definition of history. He neither believed in the pursuit of history for the sake of history nor targeted a reconstruction through meticulous detail of what really happened in the past. Instead, he attempted to discern a meaning out of history. For him such a meaning could only be derived if one went beyond the chaotic surface of events and came to identify the deeper orderly structure(s) characteristic of history. This structural description of history was to capture the ‘complexity and heterogeneity’ (Braudel 1979, p. 25) inherent in the unfolding of historical process. The above agenda for history proposes an emphasis on structures at the expense of events. This shift of focus is linked with a parallel move from the description of a state of chaos to the explanation of a state of order. While this may seem to be a simplification at first, this, in fact, leads us to come to terms with orderly structures as a complex system. A complex system is made up of many parts in a state of interaction. In such a system, the whole is not reducible to the arithmetic sum of its parts. Most important, one attribute of such complex systems has been rightly identified as the presence of hierarchies. Following Herbert Simon, hierarchy ‘is one of the central structural schemes that the architecture of complexity uses’ (Simon 1962, p. 184). There is therefore...

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