Complexity and Coupling in the Global System

Mauro Guillén
Event date
Event time
Saïd Business School
Park End Street
Event type
Lectures and seminars
Disabled access?
Booking required

Held in conjunction with Oxford University Press, the Clarendon Lectures are designed to inform a general academic audience of important issues in management and the social sciences.

The Architecture of Collapse: The Global System in the 21st Century

The global system is both highly structured and predictable. And yet, crises and other episodes of abrupt change do occur rather frequently. These three lectures will develop a new theoretical framework to think about the evolution of the global system in terms of its interactive complexity and degree of coupling. These two variables will be examined at the level of the global network of nation-states, and within countries. Economic, political and social factors will be taken into consideration when it comes to assessing the structure of the global system and its evolution over time. The lectures will show how management theory and organizational sociology can be used to understand dynamics at the global level.

Complexity and Coupling in the Global System

Tuesday 29 April, 17:30

Is the global system becoming more interactively complex and tightly coupled? Drawing on a variety of theoretical perspectives—world-system, world-society, open-economy politics, new international trade theory, normal accidents—Professor Guillen will lay out the paradoxical development of the global system along economic, political, and social dimensions. He will focus on the paradoxes of predictability, coupling, and differentiated convergence, and offer a variety of empirical indicators over time. The attention will be placed on both nodes in the global system and relationships among them.

Two Intriguing Cases of Complexity & Coupling: The Eurozone and the US/China Relationship

Wednesday 30 April, 17:30

Can we understand the trials and tribulations of the Eurozone by reference to complexity and coupling, especially when compared to the European Union? Is the US/China relationship another case of complexity and tight coupling? What can we learn about complex global systems from this comparison? In this second lecture Professor Guillen will argue that the Eurozone is likely to remain inherently unstable for a very long time, and that the US/China relationship can be seen as both stabilizing and destabilizing.

Isomorphism, Impermeability, and Institutional Diversity

Thursday 1 May, 17:30

Are isomorphic forces taking over the world? To what extent are nodes in the global system impermeable to them? What are the implications for institutional diversity? In this third lecture Professor Guillen will review the evidence when it comes to institutional convergence in form and in outcomes. He will introduce the concept of "impermeability" to account for different rates of institutional diffusion across national boundaries. He will use a variety of empirical examples to illustrate the problem, focusing on central bank independence and minority shareholder protections. He will also show that the world is not getting smaller, but actually more diverse.

Please arrive at 17:00 for a prompt 17:30 start.