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A relational model of economic organization: relations within, between, and among economic scales

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 16:59 authored by Rutherford, G, James KirkpatrickJames Kirkpatrick, Aidan DavisonAidan Davison
We propose a relational theoretical model of economic organization that offers new insight into the organizing dynamics of economic systems. Neoclassical and complexity economics are, in their Western cultural origins, based on an assumption of the primacy of the discrete individual. Collectivist economic traditions are based on the principle of collective interest rather than self-interest. We attempt a rapprochement of individualist (especially free market) and collectivist (especially centrally planned) economic cultures and traditions by modelling economic organization as arising from individual and collective dynamics and the relationships between them. Structure, process, function, and content are four fundamental inter-related properties of our model of economic organization. We posit the existence of micro, meso, macro scales of economic organization in all of structure, process, function, and contents. To operationalize our relational model, the conventional bottom-up process of self-organization is reconceived to involve relationships within micro-, meso-, and macro-economic organization. In turn, the new concept of socio-cultural organization is construed to involve relationships between and among economic organization, across micro, meso, and macro scales. Our model of relations provides a structure for complex-realist exploration, making cross-scale inter-relationships explicit and by providing a structured language for description of these relationships.


Publication title

JEI: (Journal of Economic Issues)








School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Assoc Evolutionary Economics

Place of publication

Univ Tennessee, Knoxville, Dept Of Economics, Knoxville, USA, Tn, 37996-0550

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other environmental policy, climate change and natural hazards not elsewhere classified

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