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From Simplistic to Complex Systems in Economics

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The applicability of complex systems theory in economics is evaluated and compared with standard approaches to economic theorizing based upon constrained optimization. A complex system is defined in the economic context and differentiated from complex systems in physio-chemical and biological settings. It is explained why it is necessary to approach economic analysis from a network, rather than a production and utility function perspective, when we are dealing with complex systems. It is argued that much of heterodox thought, particularly in neo-Schumpeterian and neo-Austrian evolutionary economics, can be placed within a complex systems perspective upon the economy. The challenge is to replace prevailing 'simplistic' theories, based in constrained optimization, with 'simple' theories, derived from network representations in which value is created through the establishment of new connections between elements.

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  • Prof John Foster, 2004. "From Simplistic to Complex Systems in Economics," Discussion Papers Series 335, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  • Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:335
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