MADAS Seminar Series 2017/18 
Complexity Economics as Heterodoxy – Theory and Policy
Prof. Wolfram Elsner 
Universität Bremen – Institute of Institutional and Innovation Economics

Wednesday 2 May @16:00

Complexity economics became a powerful research program for a real-world economics. We give an overview and argue that it is incompatible with “equilibrium”/“optimality” of the mainstream-“market” conception, but develops older heterodox, including evolutionary-institutional, issues, such as “self-organization”/emergence, path-dependence/idiosyncrasies, lock-ins, or skewed power distributions. Also, there is space for emergent institutions through “intentionality” of agents, including improving collective performance, reducing complexity etc. We consider Complex Adaptive Systems through “games on networks” in an “evolution-of-cooperation” perspective. Also, a surge of policy implications has emerged recently. With more specific implications derived, we again reveal similarities with heterodoxies, namely pragmatist policy conceptions.


Wolfram Elsner has been Professor of Economics at University of Bremen, Germany, since 1995. He studied economics at the University of Cologne. After having received his PhD (1977) and ‘venia legendi’ (‘Habilitation’, 1985) at the University of Bielefeld, he worked as a head of regional economic development at city level (1986-1990) and as a Director of the Planning Division of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the State of Bremen, and the State Government’s economic research institute (1990-1995).
He has affiliations at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and Jilin University, Changchun, China, and taught and researched at several universities in Europe, the USA, and Australia. He is on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals, has been on a number committees of academic associations in the USA and Europe, edited many books and book series, published many articles in numerous journals on local and regional development, clusters and networks, and related complexity issues, and is managing editor of the US-based Forum for Social Economics.
He is also member of the Scientific Committee of MADAS.