The anatomy of emergence, with a focus upon capital formation
Emergence is a unifying theme of both evolutionary economics and complex systems theory. In spite of this centrality, emergence in economics has not been subject to an extensive critical analysis. This paper remedies this deficit. We identify several conditions that economic patterns (i.e. rule-systems, structures) must satisfy to qualify as emergent: (1) material realization (emergent patterns are realized in physical structures and processes); (2) coherence (pattern is not a mere aggregate but a systemic whole); (3) non-distributivity (pattern possesses global properties absent from its parts); (4) structure dependence (systemic properties depend upon connective structure). These four core features are common to all forms of emergence in economics. Evolutionary economic systems also exhibit extra-strength versions of emergence, which require that patterns possess one or more additional features: (5) genuine novelty; (6) unpredictability in principle; and (7) irreducibility. We introduce three basic forms of emergence that occur in economic systems—minimal, diachronic and synchronic emergence—and apply these ideas to capital formation at all levels of economic order. The economy-wide capital structure exhibits strongly emergent properties (both diachronic and synchronic) that depend on its structural and functional organization; it is not a mere aggregate of capital goods. Within the realm of capital phenomena, we also compare the distinguishing characteristics of emergent and spontaneous (self-organizing) orders. We provide a case study of the iPhone as an emergent capital pattern to illustrate conditions (1)–(7) above and the different types of emergence.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 82 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- John H. Miller & Scott E. Page, 2007. "Complexity in Social Worlds, from Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life," Introductory Chapters, in: Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life Princeton University Press.
- Daniel B. Klein, 2006. "RINKONOMICS: A WINDOW ON SPONTANEOUS ORDER -super-1," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 64-67, December.
- Buchanan, James M. & Vanberg, Viktor J., 1991. "The Market as a Creative Process," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 167-186, October.
- David Colander & Ric Holt & Barkley Rosser, 2003.
"The Changing Face of Mainstream Economics,"
Middlebury College Working Paper Series
0327, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
- Witt, Ulrich, 2009. "Propositions about novelty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 311-320, May.
- Schumpeter, Joseph A., 1947. "The Creative Response in Economic History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 149-159, November.
- Searle, John R., 2005. "What is an institution?," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 1-22, June.
- David Colander & Richard P.F. Holt & J. Barkley Rosser, 2010.
"The Complexity Era in Economics,"
Middlebury College Working Paper Series
1001, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
- Harper, David A. & Endres, Anthony M., 2010. "Capital as a layer cake: A systems approach to capital and its multi-level structure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(1-2), pages 30-41, May.
- Endres, Anthony M. & Harper, David A., 2011. "Carl Menger And His Followers In The Austrian Tradition On The Nature Of Capital And Its Structure," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(03), pages 357-384, September.
- Hodgson, Geoffrey M., 1997. "Economics and the return to Mecca: The recognition of novelty and emergence," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 399-412, October.
- Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Knudsen, Thorbjørn, 2010. "Generative replication and the evolution of complexity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 12-24, July.
- J. Barkley Rosser, 1999. "On the Complexities of Complex Economic Dynamics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 169-192, Fall.
- Joshua M. Epstein & Robert L. Axtell, 1996. "Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550253, December.
- Wolfram Elsner, 2010. "The process and a simple logic of ‘meso’. Emergence and the co-evolution of institutions and group size," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 445-477, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:82:y:2012:i:2:p:352-367. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.