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Complexity and the Art of Public Policy: Solving Society’s Problems from the Bottom Up

Author

Listed:
  • David Colander

    (Middlebury College)

  • Roland Kupers

    (Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford)

Abstract

Complexity science—made possible by modern analytical and computational advances—is changing the way we think about social systems and social theory. Unfortunately, economists’ policy models have not kept up and are stuck in either a market fundamentalist or government control narrative. While these standard narratives are useful in some cases, they are damaging in others, directing thinking away from creative, innovative policy solutions. Complexity and the Art of Public Policy outlines a new, more flexible policy narrative, which envisions society as a complex evolving system that is uncontrollable but can be influenced. David Colander and Roland Kupers describe how economists and society became locked into the current policy framework, and lay out fresh alternatives for framing policy questions. Offering original solutions to stubborn problems, the complexity narrative builds on broader philosophical traditions, such as those in the work of John Stuart Mill, to suggest initiatives that the authors call “activist laissez-faire” policies. Colander and Kupers develop innovative bottom-up solutions that, through new institutional structures such as for-benefit corporations, channel individuals’ social instincts into solving societal problems, making profits a tool for change rather than a goal. They argue that a central role for government in this complexity framework is to foster an ecostructure within which diverse forms of social entrepreneurship can emerge and blossom.

Suggested Citation

  • David Colander & Roland Kupers, 2014. "Complexity and the Art of Public Policy: Solving Society’s Problems from the Bottom Up," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10207.
  • Handle: RePEc:pup:pbooks:10207
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:bioerq:v:2:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s41247-017-0026-z is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Walter Buhr, 2018. "Institutional Economics: A Sketch of Economic Growth Policy," Volkswirtschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 183-18, Universität Siegen, Fakultät Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Wirtschaftsinformatik und Wirtschaftsrecht.
    3. repec:kap:policy:v:50:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11077-016-9273-x is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Roos, Michael W. M., 2015. "The macroeconomics of radical uncertainty," Ruhr Economic Papers 592, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    5. David Colander, 2014. "Capitalism as a Complex Evolving System," Ekonomi-tek - International Economics Journal, Turkish Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 13-22, January.
    6. Roos Michael W. M., 2015. "Die Komplexitätsökonomik und ihre Implikationen für die Wirtschaftspolitik," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 16(4), pages 379-392, December.
    7. Carlo Beretta, 2016. "Variazioni neoclassiche," QUADERNI DI ECONOMIA DEL LAVORO, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(106), pages 101-119.
    8. Elsner, Wolfram, 2015. "Policy Implications of Economic Complexity and Complexity Economics," MPRA Paper 63252, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Bernardo Alves Furtado & Isaque Daniel Eberhardt Rocha, 2017. "An applied spatial agent-based model of administrative boundaries using SEAL," Papers 1702.03226, arXiv.org, revised Mar 2017.
    10. Elsner, Wolfram, 2017. "Policy and State in Complexity Economics," EconStor Preprints 158766, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    11. Nicola Giocoli, 2016. "Truth or precision? Some reflections on the economists’ failure to predict the financial crisis," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 371-386, December.
    12. Alan Kirman, 2016. "Complexity and Economic Policy: A Paradigm Shift or a Change in Perspective? A Review Essay on David Colander and Roland Kupers's Complexity and the Art of Public Policy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 534-572, June.

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