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The Emergence of Organizations and Markets$
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John F. Padgett and Walter W. Powell

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148670

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148670.001.0001

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Economic Production as Chemistry II

Economic Production as Chemistry II

(p.70) 3 Economic Production as Chemistry II
The Emergence of Organizations and Markets

John F. Padgett

Peter McMahan

Xing Zhong

Princeton University Press

This chapter further develops an agent-based model of economic production from the previous chapter. It shows that certain limitations intrinsic to the original hypercycle model—in particular, complexity barriers and vulnerability to parasites—are overcome once autocatalysis takes place in a spatial context, rather than in random-topology liquids. Localized heterogeneity in spatial interaction induces the inscription of path dependencies into cells. This explains why life becomes enhanced once it is embodied. The model also demonstrates why altruism and stigmergy produce more complex rule-chemistries. Altruistic reproduction and stigmergy are superior to selfish reproduction and fixed environments, respectively, because of their superior capacities for self-repair. Beyond suggestive specifics, the hypercycle model and its extensions show how chemistry and economic production and trading in markets can be mapped onto each other, sparking insights for both sides.

Keywords:   hypercycles, agent-based model, economic production, altruism, stigmergy, altruistic reproduction, hypercycle model, chemistry

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