A complexity approach to understanding structural change of regional economies

Dr. Shade Shutters, School of Complex Adaptive Systems Arizona State University

 This talk will explore the ambiguous notion of structural change in regional economies. One simple way to measure change is to quantify the differences between vectors of industry employment at different points in time. However, this ignores the qualitative differences that each industry contributes to a regional economy.  Our approach is to recast employment vectors as networks of interacting industries, using co-occurrence models from ecology, to elucidate and quantify the cryptic economic structures within cities. We then measure, not the differences between numeric vectors, but between complex networks to quantify change of an economy. We then use this method to measure the change of US labor markets in response to the global recession of 2007-2009 and develop a typology of cities based on their responses to shocks. We find that a quality of cities that were best able to maintain economic performance is agility.  I conclude with a discussion of whether cities should really focus on managing for resilience or managing to be more adaptive and agile.

About the speaker

Dr. Shutters’ research interests focus on uncovering fundamental commonalities across complex adaptive systems, and on using that knowledge to inform managers of these systems. Though trained as an ecologist, his work is primarily on urban economies. When viewed as a complex system, urban economies become amenable to a variety of analytic methods and tools not typically embraced in mainstream economics, including tools from ecology and other systems-oriented fields. One goal of such cross-disciplinary fertilization is to deliver novel insights and models to economic planners and policy makers, particularly in areas of resilience, innovation, transitions, and future well-being.

Venue: via Zoom (please contact us at seminars@merit.unu.edu for the Zoom link)

Date: 21 April 2022

Time: 12:00 - 13:00  CEST