"There isn't a single story. The way we understand economics and economies is by learning from lots of sources and thinking about them in lots of different ways."

The development of firms and economies is fundamentally an evolutionary process that has the characteristics that evolutionary natural selection has of adaption, replication and selection. All of these are characteristics of the way economies and businesses evolve. That doesn't mean you do what some people have done and try quite literally to translate mathematical models developed to describe biological evolutionary processes into economic terms, but it does mean that kind of thinking and kind of mathematics is as relevant to economics as it is to biology.


Modular-Finance deals with Complex Adaptive Systems and Integrative Thinking across multiple disciplines.

Complexity and The Art of Public Policy, David Colander & Roland Kupers

The Need for Transdisciplinary Training: 

The Five Modules

"What this means is that dealing with modern problems requires researchers with broad, transdisciplinary knowledge and with the ability to communicate with other social science researchers in a way that will allow them to arrive at transdisciplinary recommendations. Complex issues require not only insights from multiple social disciplines, but the integration of those insights.

     Adopting a common framework will require significant changes in the thinking of the various subdisciplines of social science. For example, economists will have to recognize that the underlying theoretical model needs to be much broader and more complex than the one they generally use. Any useful model must be able to incorporate sociological, cultural, and political insights; the problems faced by society are much more complex than their current standard atomistic models recognize. Currently economists are generally not introduced to the wide variety of models and modeling techniques that allow them to address modern problems, such as dynamic nonlinearities, path dependency, contagion, epistemic game theory, network models, and endogenous norm models. The problems captured by these models and modeling techniques have been addressed by many other branches of the social sciences in heuristic models or in words, but economists' focus on a set of highly formalized models that exclude such issues and thus preclude them from learning from these other disciplines.

     Sociologists, on the other hand, will have to recognize that the development of a rigorous social model is necessary for scientific advancement, and that such a model need not be designed to rule out their insights. A model could be designed to formalize sociological insights in a way that allows them to be integrated with insights from other fields.

     The need for transdisciplinary scholars has been recognized, and it has led to the development of undergraduate interdisciplinary programs that attempt to reintegrate the various approaches by giving students a background in a variety of social science fields rather than in the narrower specific social science fields. Despite the obvious appeal of these interdisciplinary studies, in our eyes they have not succeeded. A major reason is that the various social sciences do not share a common foundation or method, which means that the modules in different subareas do not integrate well. The result is that interdisciplinary majors do not allow the in-depth study in the subfields that captures the nuances of understanding that exist in the various fields.

     Interdisciplinary work is generally regarded as superficial by specialists within the subdisciplines. The problem is that the specific social science fields have developed different methodologies and traditions, forcing the interdisciplinary approaches to give up depth for breadth without providing an alternative solid foundational depth upon which interdisciplinary breadth can be placed. In short, social scientists coming out of undergraduate training have no common framework or language, and little understanding or regard for the skills and knowledge of the other social scientists. To put them together is like putting members of different gangs together. The result is precisely what one would expect - gang warfare.

     For example, in the previous chapter we saw that modern game theory was not for economists alone. It was for all social sciences. Unfortunately, if you discuss evolutionary game theory or a sub-game perfect equilibrium with many sociologists or anthropologists, what you will most likely get is a blank stare - they aren't introduced to these models in their training. This is a serious problem since we need noneconomists' insights and mentality in designing social policy. To obtain that, the training of social sciences needs to be far more synchronized than it currently is at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The divisions are undermining advancements in the social policy narrative.

     To give an idea of what we would see as a common core of a social science program, we outline five modules of training that we believe would provide the type of transdisciplinary foundation for all the social sciences that we believe is necessary:

No comments: