Emerging Institutions: Design or Evolution?

5 - 9 September 2016

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Rapid technological developments, increasing population and global environmental change are the driving factors behind the increasing complexity in today’s society. These new developments have created tremendous complexity not only in the social, technological and ecological layers of the society, but also in its institutional structure. Institutional developments, i.e., creating rules that govern the society, are not as gradual and static as they used to be. In fact, environmental change and technological advancements call for rapid institutional development by policy makers along with an increasing role of the general public in changing existing institutions and creating new ones. Modelling the evolution of the structure of the society, in particular the formal institutional aspects (as opposed to cultural and normative dimensions) is a multi-dimensional problem. It requires the consideration of multiple layers of actors in one dimension and consideration of bottom-up (i.e. agents) and top-down (i.e. institutions, laws and regulations) layers in another dimension.

The general goal of this workshop is to gain an initial understanding of the process of institutional change by achieving consensus about the terminologies and concepts used in different disciplines and by reaching a collective understanding about the best way(s) to model it. This would allow researchers working on institutional changes to better understand its complexities by building realistic models and analysing various scenarios of institutional development. We aim to bring experts in these, and other, disciplines together for the first time, in order to make a step forward in modelling and understanding institutional emergence by both design and evolution in today’s rapidly evolving society. Our objectives are to:

1)         Reach a common language and understanding of what institutional emergence and evolution implies

2)         Become aware of the developments regarding institutional emergence and evolution in different disciplines

3)         Become aware of the developments regarding institutional design in different disciplines

4)         Understand how the different perspectives and approaches can be bridged, complemented, and possibly integrated.


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