CSS SEMINAR - February 19 - Hilton Root

Friday, February 19, 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
3rd Floor, Research Hall

Hilton Root
Professor, School of Policy, Government and Int'l. Affairs
Co-Director, Computational Public Policy Lab
Krasnow Institute and School of Policy, Government and Int'l. Affairs
George Mason University

Resilience and Stability Trade-Offs in China and Europe as Systems of Systems

ABSTRACT: This paper employs a system-of-systems approach to compare dynastic practices that established clear lines of succession for the orderly transmission of political power. For a thousand years, a succession of dynasties ruled China, while Europe existed under a collection of coexisting dynasties. These distinctly structured networks—hypernetworks, in fact— played different roles in the state development of each, with trade-offs in resilience or stability. The multi-hub structure of Europe’s intermarried monarchies lent resilience to its institutional regime and allowed the continent to better adapt to a changing environment, survive disruptive events, and accommodate coevolutionary changes across local systems. China’s hub-and-spoke network, with an emperor at the center supported by bureaucracy, was more vulnerable to shocks yet offered stability as it repeatedly reappeared following disruptions. This paper concludes that hypernetworks explain how local institutions are embedded in a multilevel social system, and how they—not the simple aggregation of agent-level equilibria—shape long-term changes.