The Choice II Reconvenes U-M’s Best and Brightest to Consider Methods and Modes for Impact Decisionmaking

Business+Impact again brought together U-M scholars on Fri, Dec. 13, 2019 to ponder  how society should make choices that will influence and contribute to a society’s or organization’s ability to flourish.

Featured participants included Tom Malone, former CEO of Summa, and Scott E. Page of the University of Michigan.

SEE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

Detailed Agenda from the Event

Opening Remarks

The Five Pure Types: A Gathering of Experts
9:15am
Our day begins with talks by five brilliant Michigan faculty from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and methodological approaches.  Each will provide a working introduction to one of the five institutional forms. How is it defined? When does this institution work well? When doesn’t it? In which allocative and decision-making domains do we see this institution? What spillovers does the institution produce?

  • Markets: Betsey Stevenson (Ford School) (Watch Video)
  • Hierarchies:  Elizabeth Popp Berman (Organizational Studies) (Watch Video)
  • Democracies: Lisa Disch (Political Science) (Watch Video)
  • Communities: Rebecca Hardin (SEAS) (Watch Video)
  • Algorithms: Paul Resnick (Information) (Watch Video)

Keynote: Tom Malone (Watch Video)
10:30am
In his recent book, SuperMinds, Tom Malone describes how technology increases the potential efficacy and power of humans interacting through institutions. Technology, sometimes in the form of algorithms and often through improved production and allocation of knowledge and information, improves democracies, hierarchies, markets, and self-organized communities.

Dyads: Real World Choices
11:45am
In The Vanishing American Corporation, Jerry Davis demonstrates how technological advances have led to more market-based transactions and fewer formal organizations (hierarchies) and how that trend has produced a variety of spillovers. Here, we bring in a collection of experts to discuss other dyadic variants of The Choice that occur in the real world.

Spillovers, Flourishing, and Context
1:30pm
The Choice framing emphasizes spillovers across institutions. In this panel, Scott Page (UM-Ross) (Watch Video) will provide some general framing on the types of spillovers that might arise as well as describe a potential taxonomy of spillovers to structure the afternoon’s charrette.

  • Jenna Bednar (Political Science) will propose human flourishing (rather than GDP) as the aim of society and frame The Choice within this broader objective. (Watch Video)
  • Oscar Ybarra (Psychology) will describe evidence for psychological spillovers. (Watch Video)
  • Last, Jerry Davis (UM-Ross) will show how context matters by taking a deep cross-national dive in Uber. Why does Swedish Uber not resemble the US version and how did Uber thrive in India? (Watch Video)

A Deep Dive: The Legal Choice  (Watch Video)
2:30pm
Orly Lobel (Univ. of San Diego Law) and JJ Prescott (UM Law) take a deep dive into how new technology disrupts settled normative regulation choices, and how policymakers should think about leveraging choices to support emerging platform markets, algorithmic capacities, and a changing labor market. 

Micro-Charette: Gigs!
3:30pm
In this session, we will break into small groups to consider the direct and spillover effects of the gig economy. How would we measure spillovers from gig work? How do gig jobs impede and enable flourishing? In what contexts should we encourage or prevent gig employment?

Closings and Openings
4:30pm
We end the day with closing (summary) and opening (new directions for research) thoughts by some key participants. Among our speakers

The Choice: Silo-Bridging, Ensemble-Based Institutional Analysis

Business+Impact and U-M’s Center for the Study of Complex Systems will again bring together U-M scholars from across disciplinary boundaries to ponder big questions about how society should best choose the institutions/methodologies to make choices that will influence and contribute to a society’s or organizations’ ability to flourish. These institutions and mechanisms guide, manage, allocate, and harness society’s intellectual, financial, social, and ecological resources to decide on laws, policies, and leaders.  

8:30-9:00 Danish Java Mingle

9:00-9:15 Welcome and Introduction

9:15-10:10The Five Pure Types: A Gathering of Experts”

10:10-10:30 Break

10:30-11:45 Keynote Tom Malone (MIT)

11:45-12:45 “Dyads: Real World Choices “

12:45-1:30 Lunch 

1:30-2:15 “Spillovers, Robustness, and Context”

2:15-2:30 Break

2:30-3:15 “A Deep Dive: The Legal Choice”

3:15-3:30 Break

3:30-4:30 Micro-Charette: “Metrics for Civic Capacity”

4:30-5:00 Closings and Openings

Some featured participants include Tom Malone of MIT, Melissa Valentine of Stanford, and Scott E. Page of the University of Michigan.


The Choice consists of an interdisciplinary group of scholars focusing on how institutions influence allocations, shape our decision-making, and organize how we relate to one another politically and economically. Within any domain, be it health or education, law or the economy, a society must choose among institutional forms to distribute resources, assign power, or otherwise structure the way that we interact with one another and pursue our interests. Those institutional choices matter for their specific domains and also more broadly.

Our inquiry focuses on five core questions related to those choices:

(1) How societies choose and design individual institutions

    • why do we have markets for cars and democracy for judges?

(2) How technological advances and demographic changes influence these choices

    • the rise of markets to structure employer-employee relationships; algorithms for criminal sentencing

(3) How nested and linked institutions produce robust outcomes

    • eg, the functionality of boards of directors atop hierarchies and federalism as a marketplace for citizens’ ideas

(4) How institutional ensembles contribute to civic capacity

    • how communities build trust and order

(5) How civic capacity limits or enables institutional choices and forms

    • why development projects fail in some countries; how norms can constrain or enable innovation