Handbook of Research on Complexity

Handbook of Research on Complexity

Elgar original reference

Edited by J. Barkley Rosser Jr.

Complexity research draws on complexity in various disciplines. This Handbook provides a comprehensive and current overview of applications of complexity theory in economics. The 15 chapters, written by leading figures in the field, cover such broad topic areas as conceptual issues, microeconomic market dynamics, aggregation and macroeconomics issues, econophysics and financial markets, international economic dynamics, evolutionary and ecological–environmental economics, and broader historical perspectives on economic complexity.

Chapter 1: Introduction

J. Barkley Rosser Jr.

Subjects: economics and finance, evolutionary economics


J. Barkley Rosser, Jr. In the earlier times the profession was trying to focus on empirical discipline. They felt that if you didn’t have so many equilibria, you would have more discipline with your analysis. So I had to hide any multiple equilibria in footnotes where future researchers could find them but where referees were less likely to see them. (William A. [“Buz”] Brock in Colander, Holt, and Rosser, 2004, p. 162) What is complexity research about? Complexity research is about complexity in various disciplines. It can be argued that ultimately this is a transdisciplinary view of the world, but it gets applied in specific disciplines. This book will focus on its applications in economics in particular, which means that we need to know what we mean by complexity, itself a complex issue, and one that is at the heart of several chapters in the first part of this book. Let us posit three different levels of complexity. The lowest level, labeled “small tent” complexity by Rosser (1999), and also as “Santa Fe complexity,” involves a focus on interacting heterogeneous agents. In a widely noted formulation, Arthur, Durlauf, and Lane (1997) provided a list of six characteristics that this lowest level tends to exhibit: 1) dispersed interaction among heterogeneous agents acting on each other locally in some space, 2) no global controller that can exploit all opportunities or interactions, despite the possibility of some weak global interactions, 3) cross-cutting hierarchical organization with tangled relations, 4) continual adaptation and learning by...