The Cognitive Mechanics of Economic Development and Institutional Change

The Cognitive Mechanics of Economic Development and Institutional Change

The Cognitive Mechanics of Economic Development and Institutional Change

The Cognitive Mechanics of Economic Development and Institutional Change

Excerpt

This book has been in the making for many years, possibly ever since I started studying economics. Many people have helped me in the course of all these years to sustain my motivation, pull me out of deep gloom and continue this research project.

On the US side of the Atlantic, my thanks goes first and foremost to Douglas North, for his constant encouragement and prodding about the progress of this book. He arranged a fellowship that allowed me to take sabbatical leave from my duties at the European Commission and finally gave me the time to pull the various bits and pieces of this research together into a book. My thanks also to Paul Edwards, now president of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Mercatus not only provided financial support and a stimulating environment but, most importantly, the intellectual freedom to indulge in theories and thoughts way off the beaten track of mainstream economics. Thanks to Sayed Shariq and the Knexus Program at the Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, for plunging me into Stanford's intellectual whirlpool, and to Nate Rosenberg for engaging me as a fish-sitter, exactly the sort of quiet environment that I needed to pick up and rework some of the loose ends in this research project. Furthermore, the participants in the Social Change Project, a series of mind-freeing as well as mind-boggling workshops on the cognitive and institutional origins of social change, presided over by Douglas North and financed through the Mercatus Center, provided some fresh thoughts and insights into a number of issues covered by this book. I am particularly grateful to Young Back Choi, Merlin Donald, Avner Greif, Timur Kuran, Chris Mantzavinos, Joel Mokyr, Vernon Smith, Kevin McCabe and Barry Weingast for their suggestions.

On the European side of the Atlantic, many people contributed knowingly or unknowlingly to this book. I am most grateful to the multi-disciplinary research Centre Leo Apostel (CLEA) at the Free University of Brussels (VUB), in particular Francis Heylighen, who provided academic shelter and encouragement in times of intellectual need. The chaotic creativity of CLEA turned out to be fertile ground for the seeds of this multi-disciplinary research project. My thanks also to Marc

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