Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy
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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.
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Chapter 11: Connections and Networks

Graham Room


11.1 INTRODUCTION We are interested in combinations and connections among the elements of systems and how, as these change, they generate novel dynamics. Thus, for example, in our treatment of Potts we were concerned with new combinations of technologies and the dynamic processes of ‘micro-meso-macro’ through which these percolate through the connective geometry of the economic system. We saw that Crouch was concerned with institutional entrepreneurs who recombine institutions and weave new governance forms. For both writers, social and economic space does not come fully connected: it is, in Potts’s phrase, non-integral. Social and economic actors are perennially reconnecting this space, driving it in new directions that take it ‘far from equilibrium’, but never escaping the path dependencies of earlier transformations. We have also made much of the way that sub-systems are coupled and, again, the implications for their dynamics. Thus, for example, in Chapters 9 and 10 we explored the coupling of predators and prey and the larger dynamics of food webs in which species are connected in hierarchies of interdependence. It is evident, therefore, that our methodological toolkit must equip us to analyse selective connections across a multi-dimensional space, how these connections change and the dynamic processes these changes set in motion. One standpoint from which to study connections is the analysis of networks. Networks connect elements into systems: they are therefore prima facie of interest (for a popular treatment, see Christakis and Fowler, 2009). So far we have, admittedly, used the language of networks to only a...

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