IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Intentionality and the emergence of complexity: an analytical approach

  • Félix-Fernando Muñoz


  • María-Isabel Encinar


Emergence is a generic property that makes economies become complex. The simultaneous carrying out of agents’ intentional action plans within an economic system generates processes that are at the base of structural change and the emergence of adaptive complex systems. This paper argues that goals and intentionality are key elements of the structure of rational human action and are the origin of emergent properties such as innovation within economic complex systems. To deal with the locus and role of goals and intentionality in relation to the emergence of complexity we propose an analytical approach based on agents’ action plans. Action plans are open representations of the action projected by agents (as individuals or organizations), where the means (actions) and objectives (or goals) are not necessarily given, but produced by agents themselves. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

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.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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.

Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

Volume (Year): 24 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 317-334

in new window

Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:24:y:2014:i:2:p:317-334
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

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.:

as in new window
  1. Wagner, Richard E., 2012. "A macro economy as an ecology of plans," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 433-444.
  2. Georgy S. Levit & Uwe Hossfeld & Ulrich Witt, 2010. "Can Darwinism Be "Generalized" and of What Use Would This Be?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2010-07, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  3. María-Isabel Encinar & Félix-Fernando Muñoz, 2006. "On novelty and economics: Schumpeter’s paradox," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 255-277, August.
  4. Witt, Ulrich, 1996. " Innovations, Externalities and the Problem of Economic Progress," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 113-30, October.
  5. Felin, Teppo & Foss, Nicolai J., 2009. "Organizational routines and capabilities: Historical drift and a course-correction toward microfoundations," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 157-167, June.
  6. Harper, David A. & Endres, Anthony M., 2012. "The anatomy of emergence, with a focus upon capital formation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 352-367.
  7. Douglass C. North, 2005. "Introduction to Understanding the Process of Economic Change
    [Understanding the Process of Economic Change]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  8. Cristiano Antonelli & Gianluigi Ferraris, 2011. "Innovation as an Emerging System Property: An Agent Based Simulation Model," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 14(2), pages 1.
  9. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  10. Caroline Gerschlager, 2012. "Agents of change," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 413-441, July.
  11. Richard N. Langlois, 2002. "Modularity in Technology and Organization," Chapters, in: Entrepreneurship and the Firm, chapter 2 Edward Elgar.
  12. Harry W. Richardson & Peter Gordon & James E. Moore II, 2005. "Introduction," Chapters, in: The Economic Impacts of Terrorist Attacks, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  13. Bhattacharyya, Aditi & Pattanaik, Prasanta K. & Xu, Yongsheng, 2011. "Choice, Internal Consistency And Rationality," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(02), pages 123-149, July.
  14. David Lane & Franco Malerba & Robert Maxfield & Luigi Orsenigo, 1995. "Choice and Action," Working Papers 95-01-004, Santa Fe Institute.
  15. Brian Loasby, 2012. "Building systems," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 833-846, September.
  16. Bénédicte Vidaillet & V. D'Estaintot & P. Abécassis, 2005. "Introduction," Post-Print hal-00287137, HAL.
  17. Sen, Amartya, 1993. "Internal Consistency of Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 495-521, May.
  18. Michael L. Katz & Carl Shapiro, 1994. "Systems Competition and Network Effects," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 93-115, Spring.
  19. Brian J. Loasby, 2003. "Closed models and open systems," SCEME Working Papers: Advances in Economic Methodology 004/2003, SCEME.
  20. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2007. "Evolutionary Theorizing Beyond Lamarckism: a reply to Richard Nelson," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 353-359, June.
  21. Boulding, K E, 1991. "What Is Evolutionary Economics?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 9-17, January.
  22. Richard Nelson, 2007. "Comment on: Dismantling Lamarckism: why descriptions of socio-economic evolution as Lamarckian are misleading, by Hodgson and Knudsen," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 349-352, June.
  23. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary concepts in economics and biology," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 473-476, December.
  24. Kurt Dopfer, 2011. "Evolution and Complexity in Economics Revisited," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2011-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  25. J. Stan Metcalfe & John Foster & Ronnie Ramlogan, 2006. "Adaptive economic growth," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(1), pages 7-32, January.
  26. Muñoz, Félix-Fernando & Encinar, María-Isabel & Cañibano, Carolina, 2011. "On the role of intentionality in evolutionary economic change," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 193-203, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:24:y:2014:i:2:p:317-334. 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: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F Baum)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.