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Positive Linking: How Networks Can Revolutionise the World [Paperback]

Paul Ormerod
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 July 2012

According to Paul Ormerod, author of the bestselling Butterfly Economics and Why Most Things Fail, the mechanistic viewpoint of conventional economics is drastically limited - because it cannot comprehend the vital nature of networks. As our societies become ever more dynamic and intertwined, network effects on every level are increasingly profound. 'Nudge theory' is popular, but only part of the answer. To grapple successfully with the current financial crisis, businesses and politicians need to grasp the perils and possibilities of Positive Linking.

Our social and economic worlds have been revolutionised by a massive increase in our awareness of the choices, decisions, behaviours and opinions of other people. For the first time in human history, more than half of us live in cities, and this, combined with the Internet, has transformed communications. Network effects - the fact that a person can and often does decide to change his or her behaviour simply on the basis of copying what others do - pervade the modern world.

As Ormerod shows, network effects make conventional approaches to policy, whether in the public or corporate sectors, much more likely to fail. But they open up the possibility of truly 'Positive Linking' - of more subtle, effective and successful policies, ones which harness our knowledge of network effects and how they work in practice.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571279201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571279203
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 315,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

A groundbreaking and accessible work of economics, linking nudge and network theory for the first time.

About the Author

Paul Ormerod is the author of The Death of Economics, Butterfly Economics and Why Most Things Fail. He studied economics at Cambridge and his career has spanned the academic and practical business worlds, including working at the Economist and as a director of the Henley Centre for Forecasting. He is a Fellow of the British Academy of Social Science and has been awarded a DSchonoris causafor his contribution to economics by the University of Durham.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Leitir
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a book which shines a robust, academic yet accessible spotlight on a force that has been at work in human affairs for millenia, but which is still only barely understood - networks. A reader of this review, or indeed of the blurb for the book itself, may scoff at such statements as amounting to little more than repeating what should be blindingly obvious to any educated reader. Unfortunately, in scoffing, such people may be exposing their own ignorance of the effects of networks, which are real and ever present, and their potential benefits for better, but not perfect, policy development and implementation. Ormerod grounds his thesis in what he identifies as a key flaw of economic thinking as it has evolved over the last century or so - that there is an optimum model of human behaviour, and therefore for policy development, which can be developed by those in a position of authority and thereafter implemented. He makes a very convincing case that such a viewpoint simply does not acknowledge the reality of life as lived by people. He clearly has little time for the underpinnings of modern economic thinking, arguing that it needs to embrace a more holistic view of society. He is careful to point out that he is not arguing for no government, but for more thoughtful government, predicated on a greater sense of distributed leadership throughout society. He is also very honest in describing how the literature on network effects is still very much in its infancy, and that much more research and learning is required. He hints that some of the deeper mysteries of network effects may never be discovered, due largely to the paradox of human nature, which is so universal and yet so unique to each individual. When you add to the equation the complex dynamics of human relationships, it highlights the achievement of the author in making such a complex, challenging and even provocative topic so accessible and so fascinating. Can't wait to read more!
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By PK
Format:Paperback
"Positive Linking" Dare to peek into the wonderful world of thinking by a member of the inteligentsia. Entertaining and understandable in places even for the likes of myself! I indulged in a chuckle or two as the author describes the division in his household on the famous love it or hate it...Marmite brigade. Even more entertaining as he describes at what price he could be persuaded to eat it! Not a surprise. Though as you would expect it was used as an example of... well read it for yourself!

This Brightly coloured book would not look out of place at the side of Ted Benton's book on Bumble Bees, if, you are fortunate enough to have a copy. Pop "Bumblebees" & "Positive Linking" on your coffee table and dress to impress. The two go well together
.Collins New Naturalist Library (98) - Bumblebees
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rescue plan for economic policymaking 13 Dec 2012
By Peter Hulm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For my money Paul Ormerod is the best post-Keynesian economist writing in the U.K. today. He's a pioneer of new economic theory, challenging the fundamental orthodoxes of his field. For over 20 years he has been a specialist enthused about applying to economics the lessons we can learn from other sciences. especially biology, network theory and behavioral studies.

His latest book takes on preference theory. the assumption of rational choice, and the built-in, misleading presumption that individuals make their economic decisions in isolation from each other.

That's not the way we act in real life, and you may not find the counter-argument surprising: the choices we make are directly and indirectly affected by other people in the absence of perfect information. In our age of instant communication this can put economic policy seriously out of whack. The Lehman Brothers collapse was so dangerous because none of the safeguards in place or economic policy advisers had considered the network effect.

But Ormerod is not just knocking down old statues. His book sets out to show us how understanding network processes in economics can overcome the current challenges and lead to more effective policymaking.

As always, his writing is a model of clarity. He asks you to look at the economic theory behind the martyrdom of Protestant reformers in 1555 and English soccer riots in Sardinia in 1990, as well as the strange appeal of Marmite to a section of the British population to argue: "We need a new theory of rational behaviour." You can find that theory in this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rational Man Becomes Networked Man 25 Feb 2013
By R. Blanchard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is nicely written and edited, clear, not always concise but very interesting. It assembles and analyses the best of current thinking on the subject of why the idea of the Rational Economic Man operating in a free-market, equilibrium economy is no longer an adequate framework for understanding the global economy in the 21st century. Rational man is actually Networked Man who's social and especially economic decisions are only partially explained by careful calculation of self-interest. Traditional incentives used by marketeers and governments developing public policy (prices, taxes, etc.) often yield unpredictable results and widespread unintended consequences. Ormerod thinks we can do better by understanding and taking advantage of social linkages and the effects of behavioral "copying" between and among groups and individuals in various networked relationships. This new model is not yet broadly accepted by economists because there are still many unknowns but Ormerod argues persuasively that it will be and the sooner the better. An excellent read for anyone interested in economics or public policy.
4.0 out of 5 stars The world is not normal 3 April 2014
By ComplexEast - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
and what he thinks by that is: not Gaussian ;-)
A nice book, defending quite directly relevance of networks in microeconomics. The main contribution is his good interpretation of the rather abstract mathematical concepts such as stochastic multiplicative processes, networks, or self-enforcing loops into very readable economic jargon, very clearly focused on possible applications, and illustrated with clear and well chosen examples.
4.0 out of 5 stars Not overly original 17 Aug 2013
By SterlingPhil - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
But it's a good place to start Economics 101 before one falls under the spell of the mathematical formula "wizards". Great documentation backs up the author's premises. He's incredibly well-read in literature spanning a multitude of disciplines. I would highly recommend this as a starting place for people trying to figure out what "economics" is all about.
3.0 out of 5 stars Little original thought 28 Jan 2013
By Gabor Paller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The only thing I found interesting is the author's own research about market demand curve in the presence of "bandwagon" effect (p. 150). Otherwise the content is a compilation of well-known results. The "what can be done" section is particularly empty of content (but not text :-( ). Can be considered an introduction to the field.
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