The Emergence of Organizations and Markets

The Emergence of Organizations and Markets

John F. Padgett and Walter W. Powell

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780691148670

Publisher: Princeton University Press


The social sciences have sophisticated models of choice and equilibrium but little understanding of the emergence of novelty. Where do new alternatives, new organizational forms, and new types of people come from? Combining biochemical insights about the origin of life with innovative and historically oriented social network analyses, this book develops a theory about the emergence of organizational, market, and biographical novelty from the coevolution of multiple social networks. The book demonstrates that novelty arises from spillovers across intertwined networks in different domains. In the short run actors make relations, but in the long run relations make actors. This theory of novelty emerging from intersecting production and biographical flows is developed through formal deductive modeling and through a wide range of original historical case studies. The book builds on the biochemical concept of autocatalysis—the chemical definition of life—and then extends this autocatalytic reasoning to social processes of production and communication. The chapters analyze a wide range of cases of emergence. They look at the emergence of organizational novelty in early capitalism and state formation; they examine the transformation of communism; and they analyze with detailed network data contemporary science-based capitalism: the biotechnology industry, regional high-tech clusters, and the open source community.

Table of Contents

1 The Problem of Emergence

John F. Padgett Walter W. Powell

3 Economic Production as Chemistry II

John F. Padgett Peter McMahan Xing Zhong

7 Country as Global Market

John F. Padgett

11 The Emergence of the Russian Mobile Telecom Market

Valery Yakubovich Stanislav Shekshnia

12 Social Sequence Analysis

David Stark Balázs Vedres

13 Chance, Nécessité, et Naïveté

Walter W. Powell Kurt Sandholtz

14 Organizational and Institutional Genesis

Walter W. Powell Kelley Packalen Kjersten Whittington

15 An Open Elite

Walter W. Powell Jason Owen-Smith

17 Why the Valley Went First

Lee Fleming Lyra Colfer Alexandra Marin Jonathan McPhie

18 Managing the Boundaries of an “Open” Project

Fabrizio Ferraro Siobhán O’Mahony


Walter W. Powell John F. Padgett