Why We Need Network Analysis to Understand the Future of Economics

Stuart Astill

Stuart Astill, IOD Parc - From 'OpenDemocracy.Net' 2nd November 2016

What it is, what it’s not

Network analysis is the method of the future. That is not only – certainly not primarily – because we are ever more connected in some superficial social-media driven internet sort of way. All of that may be fascinating (and certainly can be analysed using network analysis), but it is not fundamental to our existence as humans – we existed before Facebook, we will exist after it is gone.

Entirely fundamental though are the complex linkages between humans, problems and resources. And those linkages are just as important as the humans, problems and resources themselves. Analysing the links, not just the elements in isolation, requires network analysis.

The problem

In environmental, human and, therefore, long-run economic terms the models we use to describe the world currently find false optimal flight-paths towards unsustainable monolithic solutions. And don’t forget what an important and multi-faceted word unsustainable is – not just environmental concerns, but also the physical and mental health of populations, poverty and income divergence, political and societal fractures.

CECAN Complexity in Evaluation Workshop: What we did and what we learned

complexity workshop blog


The first of two blogs following this event, from the perspective of the lead facilitator, Dr Paul Brand

‘The Complexity in Evaluation Workshop: What we did and what we learned’

This was my first experience of facilitating for CECAN.   I’d heard about it from colleagues who are involved and it all sounded fascinating, but perhaps a little ‘technical’ – possibly even a tad ‘dry’.

This event was publicised as:

“This 2 day residential workshop, conducted under the Chatham House Rule, will bring together evidence teams, policy makers, policy analysts, complexity scientists, evaluation experts and experts in Nexus subjects.”

Fascinating I thought, but not necessarily a hotbed of creativity and passion.  How wrong I was!

The post event feedback included comments like:

‘A journey’, ‘worthwhile’, ‘enjoyable’, ‘dynamism’, ‘energy’ and ‘larding’ (the latter I will explain later).

Why Carry Out Economic Evaluation?

Impact blog

Dr Ulrike Hotopp, Chief Economist, Simetrica and member of the Council of the UK Evaluation Society

I have only recently joined the small economic research consultancy Simetrica. Before this I spent 16 years in the Government Economic Service, starting as an economic advisor in DTI in 2000 (now known as BEIS). I first worked on employment policy and one of my main tasks was to produce Impact Assessments for new employment regulation using the tools of Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). These can also be described as ex-ante evaluation – forecasting the impact of new regulation.

Having done a few of these, an important question is: how realistic was the assessment? Was it really true that improved maternity rights had no impact on female employment but instead improved the rate of women returning to work after having a child? Were there any wider micro and macro economic effects? On other groups in the labour market, company profits?

CECAN - funded and supported by the following organisations