5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Dynamics Among Nations: A Conversation with Hilton Root

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

Public Engagement in an Age of Complexity is proud to host Dr. Hilton Root on Feb. 25 at 12:30 p.m. to discuss the ideas in his book Dynamics among Nations: The Evolution of Legitimacy and Development in Modern States (MIT Press). In the book, Root explores the use of complexity models to understand local and international governance challenges, particularly in light of declining Western liberal internationalism.

Root brings insights from the study of complex systems to questions about international development, governance and economics, and the interactions between ruling coalitions, institutions, and government agencies. Far-ranging case studies illustrate how differences in regime structure, advances in warfare and weaponry, and diverse systems of innovation and bureaucracy all shaped historical state development; and how the interconnected behaviours of coevolving actors have resulted in diverse growth trajectories. He argues this complexity-focused framework is particularly important to explain global shifts from domination by central organizing powers to competition from myriad networked systems.

“The system of international relations, like most complex ecosystems, such as the nervous system or a rain forest, is yielding to its rules of complexity,” Root writes. “In complex systems, a central administrator rarely guides the collective behaviors that characterize developmental processes. The system itself has a collective behavior that depends on all its parts.”

Root, a policy specialist in international political economy and development, is a professor on the faculty at the George Mason University School of Public Policy; a visiting professor at King’s College, London; and a visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Economic Affairs. He was senior adviser on development finance at the Treasury Department (2001-2002) and one of the originators of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. He has authored nine books, and his writing regularly appears in the Wall Street Journal Asia, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.

David Rejeski, director of the Science & Technology Innovation Program at the Wilson Center, will lead the discussion, which will include time for audience questions. Copies of Dynamics among Nations: The Evolution of Legitimacy and Development in Modern States will be available at the event. 

The website for the book can be found here: http://www.dynamicsamongnations.com/


  • David Rejeski

    Global Fellow
    Former Director, Science and Technology Innovation Program, Woodrow Wilson Center