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Complexity, Institutions And Public Policy

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Complexity, Institutions And Public Policy

Agile Decision-Making in a Turbulent World

Graham Room

Graham Room, Professor of European Social Policy, University of Bath, UK

2011 392 pp Hardback 978 0 85793 263 1
2011 Paperback 978 0 85793 265 5
ebook isbn 978 0 85793 264 8

Hardback £101.00 on-line price £90.90

Paperback £32.00 on-line price £25.60


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‘I was excited by the book and the light it threw on many current policy issues. I was immensely impressed by the sheer scope and bravado of what I read. It attempts to integrate complexity science with evolutionary theory and institutionalism. It engages with post-Darwinian theory but superimposes on this an equal concern with power and politics. The book is ambitious and complex but surprisingly lucid and well written. This is a work at last taking the analysis of policy making a big step forward.’
– Ian Gough, London School of Economics, UK

Contents: Preface 1. Introduction Part I: Concepts 2. The Complexity Paradigm 3. Complex Adaptive Systems 4. The Economy as a Complex Adaptive System 5. Institutional Settings and Architectures 6. Institutional Dynamics 7. The Struggle for Positional Advantage 8. Conceptualising Social Dynamics Part II: Methods 9. Attractors and Orbits in Dynamic Systems 10. Patterns in Time and Space 11. Connections and Networks 12. Mobility on Social Landscapes 13. Towards a Generic Methodology Part III: Policies 14. Agile Policy-Making 15. Poverty and Social Exclusion 16. Social Dynamics of the Knowledge Economy 17. Global Turbulence and Crisis Postscript: Tools for Policy-Makers References Index

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‘This is a most fascinating book. Just as Aristotle wrote his Metaphysics after his Physics, so Room has written a “metasocialpolicy” which will act as a groundwork for future study of social policy and for policy-making.’
– Citizen’s Income

‘Theoretical work on complex phenomena is beginning to have a major impact on several disciplines. Graham Room gives a clear summary of many of these insights and shows how this work can help guide public policy.’
– Geoffrey M. Hodgson, University of Hertfordshire, UK

‘This is a very important book. Graham Room gives a very detailed, accurate and accessible review of complexity theory as it applies to social policy. It will be of interest to academics who really want to understand the implications of complexity theory for policy making in complex and fast-changing situations and to those undertaking advanced courses in politics, economics and sociology.’
– Jean Boulton, Cranfield University, UK

Graham Room argues that conventional approaches to the conceptualisation and measurement of social and economic change are unsatisfactory. As a result, researchers are ill-equipped to offer policy advice. This book offers a new analytical approach, combining complexity science and institutionalism.

Part 1 is concerned with the conceptualisation of socio-economic change. It integrates complexity science and institutionalism into a coherent ontology of social and policy dynamics.

Part 2 is concerned with models and measurement. It combines some of the principal approaches developed in complexity analysis with models and methods drawn from mainstream social and political science.

Part 3 offers empirical applications to public policy: the dynamics of social exclusion; the social dimension of knowledge economies; the current financial and economic crisis. These are supplemented by a toolkit for the practice of ‘agile policy making’.

This is a stimulating, provocative and highly original book. It will appeal to academics and students in social and policy studies and to a wide range of scholars in other disciplines where complexity science is already well-developed. It will also be of major interest for decision makers coping with complex and turbulent policy terrains.

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