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Real-World Economics Today:The New Complexity, Co-ordination and Policy

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  • Wolfram Elsner

Abstract

More realistic economics has to start out from the most basic socio-economic phenomena and processes, i.e. dilemma-prone interdependencies and strong uncertainty among agents that have become ubiquitous phenomena in the world today. In the reality of the “new” economy these are represented by functional and spatial fragmentation of value-added chains, global de-regulation and disembedding of the most powerful economic agents, on one hand, and increasing complexity and high integration of goods and services and net-based tele-IC-technologies on the other hand. All these rather new phenomena entail ubiquitous actual or potential co-ordination failure, either in the form of conventional “market failure”, with a complete mutual blockage of action, or of “wrong” co-ordination, or technological “lock-in”. Both forms are indicative of an insufficient capacity of the co-ordinated action required. In contrast, capability of sustainable innovative action in a broad sense requires new forms of co-ordination beyond “market” and “hierarchy”. Economics thus has to be defined more than ever as a science of effective co-ordination and the generation of innovative and sustainable collective action capacity. The global corporate economy has developed individualist arrangements to cope with that new co-ordination problem, such as local clusters and hub&spoke networks, which all have severe shortcomings. Against this background, the paper develops a setting with ubiquitous direct interdependencies, net-externalities, “strategic” strong uncertainty and ubiquitous (latent) social-dilemma problems. It discusses the possibility of an ideal decentralized and spontaneous co-ordination through emergent institutionalized collective action, specifically of “well-governed” network co-operation. In conclusion, it is argued that only a hybrid system of networks together with a new public policy role, supporting collective learning and emergent institutional co-ordination, i.e. an “interactive” and “institutional” policy approach, is capable of solving the co-ordination problems of the “new” economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfram Elsner, 2005. "Real-World Economics Today:The New Complexity, Co-ordination and Policy," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(1), pages 19-53.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:63:y:2005:i:1:p:19-53
    DOI: 10.1080/00346760500047909
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David, 1998. "Learning in games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 631-639, May.
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    5. Perraton, Jonathan, 2001. "The Global Economy--Myths and Realities: Review Article," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(5), pages 669-684, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Elsner, Wolfram & Hocker, Gero & Schwardt, Henning, 2009. "Simplistic vs. Complex Organization: Markets, Hierarchies, and Networks in an 'Organizational Triangle'," MPRA Paper 14315, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. 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.
    3. Wolfram Elsner, 2007. "Why Meso? On “Aggregation” and “Emergence”, and Why and How the Meso Level is Essential in Social Economics," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 1-16, January.
    4. Elsner, Wolfram & Schwardt, Henning, 2015. "The (dis-)embedded firm: Complex structure and dynamics in inter-firm relations. Adding institutionalization as a Veblenian dimension to the Coase-Williamson approach – An emerging triangular organiza," MPRA Paper 67193, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Elsner, Wolfram, 2015. "Policy Implications of Economic Complexity and Complexity Economics," MPRA Paper 63252, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Elsner, Wolfram & Heinrich, Torsten, 2009. "A simple theory of 'meso'. On the co-evolution of institutions and platform size--With an application to varieties of capitalism and 'medium-sized' countries," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 843-858, October.

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