F. A. Hayek et Herbert A. Simon : la contribution de deux approches par la complexité à l'élaboration d'un corps de connaissances et d'outils utiles dans l'analyse et la prévention des "poly-crises" alimentaires. L'exemple de la crise alimentaire de 2007-2008

Abstract : Over the April-June 2008 period, prices of the commodities such as wheat, maize, rice and vegetable oils, reached impressive yet not exceptional peaks. By contrast, the populations of 48 countries were stricken by severe under nutrition. Most of them had already been weakened not only by conflicts, social disorders, dramatic and unusual climatic and natural disasters, but also by outbreaks, epizooties, and population displacements. In some cases, all these factors together played a significant role in the worsening situation. However, another important reason could be advanced to explain why the 2008 food crisis was an “extraordinary problem”. This one is that “normal” scientific knowledge was defeated by the complexity of what it appears now as a food “poly-crises” (Morin, 2011). We answered by designing an epistemological, methodological, and technical knowledge base from two very different and alternative economics approaches of facing complexity. The first is the Hayekian approach (1899-1992), and the second, the Simonian approach (1916-2001). The research intends to fulfill cumulativity criteria, traditionally difficult to satisfy with the ones of complexity. From the following analysis we mostly learned two things. First, epistemological grounds of economics needed to be broken in complex environment(s): 1) from certainty/objectivity to uncertainty/subjectivity, 2) from accurate prediction to design, 3) from linear causality deemed inappropriate or, worse, threatening people freedoms, to complex causality. Second, in the adaptation process, the role of “tacit” knowledge production and sharing is central. For that reason, the core of economics problem is not allocation of resources anymore. Now, the main problem for humans whose cognitive capacity are “bounded” is to compute, to “socialize” (Nonaka et alii, 1994, 2001), available but dispersed information and knowledge and to converse them into heuristics or patterns allowing the adaptation to complex and uncertain environment(s). Two others auxiliary hypotheses –E. Ostrom (2011) will endorse them later- can be drawn from that preliminary work: 1) the dynamics of change rooted “in the thinking and in the creativity of people involved in complex situations and their capacity to restructure their own models for interactions”, 2) reciprocal altruism (Simon, 1992, 1993) is a rational behavior which can be more effective in/for the social interactions in complex environment(s) than maximizing or selfish behavior. To present preliminary results in an effective way, we created a very simple interface scheme. It takes the form of a three-dimensional knowledge loop with two strands, “generic” and “tacit” knowledge connected between themselves to produce by recursion a meta-knowledge. We made the choice of the interface because it reflects with the most accuracy the position defended by Hayek and Simon which is that economics is a frontier science. Moreover, the interface has the advantage of being both open and closed. A part of the research is more specifically dedicated to design tools increasing the understanding of the “polyfood” crises. We elaborated a three-level indicator with: 1) perceptions of the contribution of each factor to the outbreak and the worsening of the situation; 2) contributions of actors to the explanation of the food crisis proposed in 2008. It was developed from: 1) a case study comparing and contrasting explanations proposed a) in their statements by 138 Heads of State and Government attended the High Level Conference on World Food Security (3-5 June 2008), b) in their analyses by economists, c) in their testimonies by people hit by under nutrition/rising food prices (database IRIN); 2) a new and more updated typology focused on the responses addressed by 18 countries split into 3 groups [...].
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Jean-Marc Desbois. F. A. Hayek et Herbert A. Simon : la contribution de deux approches par la complexité à l'élaboration d'un corps de connaissances et d'outils utiles dans l'analyse et la prévention des "poly-crises" alimentaires. L'exemple de la crise alimentaire de 2007-2008. Economies et finances. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016PA01E039⟩. ⟨tel-01805067⟩

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