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The complementary relationship between institutional and complexity economics: The example of deep mechanismic explanations

Gräbner, Claudius (2016): The complementary relationship between institutional and complexity economics: The example of deep mechanismic explanations.

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Abstract

Analyzing economic systems from an evolutionary-institutional or a complexity perspective are two complementary approaches to economic inquiry. Three arguments in favor of this hypothesis are discussed: (i) eminent institutional economists have considered the economy as what today could be considered a complex system; (ii) complexity economists lack meta-theoretical foundations which could be provided by institutionalist theory; (iii) institutional economists could benefit from using methods of complexity economics. In this context I argue that scholars considering the economy to be complex should seek to explain it by discovering social mechanisms instead of focusing on prediction. For the discrimination between alternative explanations, scholars should refer to the deepness of an explanation, rather than to Occam’s razor.

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