My Research Interests


How people, firms, things are connected to each other, and how different ways in which they are connected have different implications.

Complex Systems

How the properties of systems as a whole emerge from the interactions of their component parts. These are systems in which the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

‘Rule of thumb’

Decision makers in economics. How we can understand many social and economic questions better if we relax the traditional assumption that decision makers attempt to find the ‘best’ decision. Instead, they appear to use simple rules of thumb to arrive at ‘fairly good’ decisions.

These three topics are of course related. They draw on work from a wide range of disciplines, such as biology, economics, psychology, maths and statistical physics. Here is an article in Nature on this general topic.

My Books

My latest book is: Positive Linking: How Networks and Incentives Can Revolutionise the World. I have also authored three best-selling books. The Death of Economics in 1994 and Butterfly Economics in 1998 have both been published in more than 10 languages. My third book, Why Most Things Fail, was named a US Business Book of the Year for 2006 by BusinessWeek magazine.

I wrote the Death of Economics in 1993. But a lot of what I wrote then is relevant to the current crisis. Of course things have moved on, but here is the preface, chapter 1 and a chapter on the pitfalls of economic forecasting.

I am a Fellow of the British Academy for the Social Sciences and in the 2007/2008 academic year was a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Durham. In July 2009 I was awarded an honourary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Durham for the ‘distinction of his contributions to the discipline of economics’.

I present regularly at a wide range of business and academic events. I have recently been a keynote speaker at, for example, the Chinese Conference on Complex Networks in Hangzhou, to 4000 people at the Expomanagment Conference in Sao Paolo, the Business and Compleixy conference in Washington DC.  In the past few months, I have given presentations at the Banque de France , the Ecole Centrale in Paris, INSEAD, Florence, St Petersburg, and a public lecture for the Institute for New Economic Thinking in Cambridge, England.