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

Perspectives on the Future of Paid Family Leave

Policy Talks @ the Ford School

Perspectives on the Future of Paid Family Leave

Free and open to the public. Reception to follow.

This event will be live webstreamed. Check event website right before the event for viewing information.

Please join us for a Conversation Across Difference as Dr. Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute and Ford Professor Betsey Stevenson discuss their perspectives on Paid Family Leave. 

From the speakers’ bios:

Andrew G. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits. Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), overseeing SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Biggs has published widely in academic publications as well as in daily newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Biggs co-vice chair of a blue ribbon panel tasked with analyzing the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and how governments can securely fund plans in the future. In 2014, Institutional Investor Magazine named him one of the 40 most influential people in the retirement world. In 2016, he was appointed by President Obama to be a member of the financial control board overseeing reforms to Puerto Rico’s budget and the restructuring of the island’s debts. Biggs holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

Betsey Stevenson is an associate professor of public policy at the Ford School, with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Economics. She is also a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, a fellow of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research in Munich, and serves on the board of directors of the American Law and Economics Association. Betsey recently completed a two-year term as an appointed member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. She served as the chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor from 2010 to 2011. Stevenson is a labor economist whose research focuses on the impact of public policies on the labor market. Her research explores women’s labor market experiences, the economic forces shaping the modern family, and the potential value of subjective well-being data for public policy.

Hosted by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and co-sponsored by the AEI Executive Council at Michigan and WeListen.

Keeping Our Door Open

A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Refugee Resettlement

Keeping Our Door Open
This two-day symposium on refugee resettlement features keynote speakers U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12th District) and Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS (founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). HIAS is the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees.