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"GLOPE II" Waseda Center for Global Political Economy (selected as a 2008 Global COE*)

"Political Economy of Institutional Construction": A new field developed through cooperation of politics and economics

Professor Aiji Tanaka, leader of the Global COE institute "GLOPE II"

Today, the world has become linked by a global economic and information network, and various global events have close and reciprocal influence on each other. In particular, economics and politics share a close relationship and interact mutually. Whether the influence is good or bad, a single event overcomes national borders and geographical distance to spread instantaneously. In the fields of politics and economics, regardless of the type of events, domestic issues and international issues are tied together without borders.

In this kind of society, problems cannot be solved through separate consideration of issues related to the regional economy, domestic economy, and global economy, or through separate consideration of political and economic issues. However, in the academic world, research fields remain separated in the areas of economics and political science, and until now it has not been possible to easily combine these fields.

From an early time, the Waseda University School of Political Science and Economics has been conscious that a reconstruction of the academic world is essential in order to directly confront the problem of separated research fields, and the school has transformed this consciousness into action. In 1999, definite shape was given to the concept of establishing new departments, and in 2004, the Department of International Political Science and Economics was established in the School of Political Science and Economics. This new department was the third to be establishing in the school, following the Department of Political Science and the Department of Economics.

Concurrently with these activities, the research and educational centers "Constructing Open Political-Economic Systems", which was also organized in order to unite the fields of politics and economics, was selected in 2003 for the 21st Century COE program** of the MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) and began a 5 year program. At the same time, the Waseda Center for Global Political Economy "GLOPE" was established as a base for the program.

Currently, the 21st Century COE program has evolved in the education research centers "Political Economy of Institutional Construction: Toward an Expectation-Realizing Society-"GLOPE II", a Global COE program which began in 2008. We discussed the activities of GLOPE, which is central to the expansion of both programs, with Professor Aiji Tanaka, instructor in the Faculty of Political Science and Economics and Director of the Global COE Program Institute.

(*) Note: Global COE is a program of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) that offers prioritized support for the formation of international outstanding education research centers. "COE" stands for Center of Excellence.

(**) Note: 21st Century COE is a central support program of the MEXT for the formation of global research and educational centers. 21st Century COE began in 2002 as the initial program of a series of programs to support the establishment of COE programs at universities.

The Global COE program seeks to establish a new "Political Economy of Institutional Construction" through cooperation between political science and economics.

Working to develop an open methodology

As implied by its name, the 21st Century COE program "Constructing Open Political-Economic Systems" features cooperation between political science and economics. The program seeks to establish a common methodology for open academic fields.

"Initially, there was a great amount of external opinion that 'the fusion of political science and economics cannot be achieved' and that 'it is an almost impossible goal'. However, after 5 years of work, a certain degree of success has been shown by cooperating to develop a new methodology. We have obtained the conviction that it is possible for political scientists and economists to share a common methodology." (Professor Tanaka)

The experiment room for Waseda University's "political economy experiment". It is possible to perform an experiment relating to certain events simultaneously on multiple human subjects. A host computer simulates social events based on the data input for human subjects of the experiment. ?

As stated by Professor Tanaka, the shared methodology of political science and economics that is needed to confront the various events of global society has not been found by debating current theory. Rather, the methodology has been found within the process of attempting to solve how political scientists and economists must cooperate in order to face new social event. More specifically, it is found within the development of a new approach which uses experimental study to analyze social events from a micro and macro perspective.

One such methodology uses an experiment named the "political economy experiment" in order to clarify human psychology and behavior. This experiment takes place in a laboratory where desktop computers have been linked to a server. Observations are made regarding how human beings act in certain groups or societies, and how members of the experimental group act while viewing the behavior of others. Then, it is verified whether the behavior of human beings converges according to a theoretical model constructed through deduction. "In the past, mathematical theory models which relied on game theory were prevalent. However, in recent years, theory models are being presented from new perspectives such as cognitive psychology and evolutionary game theory." (Professor Tanaka)

The cutting-edge social survey method "CASI"

Another methodology is the development of new social survey method known as "CASI (Computer Assisted Self Interview). Social surveys are a method of interview survey in which "door-to-door visits" are made to randomly selected survey participants. This type of survey is currently used in surveys such as public opinion polls. However, such surveys are subject to criticism because uniform composition of questions is used for all participants regardless of attributes, thus making it impossible to delve deeply into the psychology or behavior of each person. Another criticism concerns the bias that arises when participants seek to portray their actions as positive to the surveyor.

On the other hand, CASI replaces the conventional questionnaire with a notebook computer, thus making it simple to ask more probing questions according to participant attributes or response patterns for previous questions. Also, the participant inputs responses by himself or herself, without being seen by the surveyor. This makes it possible to eliminate bias from responses and to have participants honestly input their true feelings and opinions.

An actual screen from Japan's first nationwide public opinion poll (CASI survey) performed using a notebook computer. Waseda University has successfully completed an experimental public opinion poll using the world's first CASI survey into which a political economy experiment has been incorporated.

"Consider the method known as 'CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview)' which is used at the University of Michigan ISR (Institute for Social Research), an institute which boast the world's number one research in public opinion polls. CAPI still uses the conventional method in which surveys do the inputting, so bias in responses remains unchanged. Stanford University has realized a CASI which uses the internet, but, unlike the method of "door-to-door visits", notebook computers are lent to participants. The participants then have to connect to the internet and operate the computer themselves. The problem with this method is the inability to broadly cover participants who lack a high level of computer literacy. In this respect, the CASI method that we have developed can be considered as the most advanced survey method currently in existence, and is the subject of great attention from the world." (Professor Tanaka)

Furthermore, Waseda University "GLOPE" has performed the world's first successful nationwide public opinion poll which incorporates a political economy experiment performed in a laboratory into a CASI survey. This achievement has been evaluated highly even within the 21st Century COE program.

Through further interaction of theory and substantiative proof based on both macro/micro perspectives, the Global COE program which began from 2008 seeks to establish a new form of political science and economics that is worthy of being called the "Waseda Model".

Key concepts are "systems" and "expectations"

Two new key concepts have been developed at the Global COE program "Political Economy of Institutional Construction". These key concepts are "systems" and "expectations".

"The behavior of individuals and groups are influenced by personal desires and predictions towards current lifestyles, future lifestyles, and the behavior of others. In other words, behavior is influenced by expectations. The formation of these expectations is encouraged and regulated by behavioral norms and rules formulated by society, in other words, by systems. Our Global COE, 'GLOPE II', seeks to examine how to construct systems which can respond to expectations, as well as how to establish an 'expectation-realizing society' that contains these systems." (Professor Tanaka)

Image of an "expectation-realizing society". Systems are formed in an environment where the expectations that people hold towards society and the behavior of others are shared, and a society which responds to people's expectations is realized.

Let's consider a familiar example. Assume that a system is implemented for new garbage bags. These new bags are expensive, but they are tough enough that they cannot be torn or ripped by crows. Now, assume you realize that 9 out of 10 neighbors are still using conventional, inexpensive garbage bags. Psychological, you will be tempted to use the inexpensive bags yourself. Conversely, assume that 8 out of 10 neighbors have already changed to the new garbage bags, and that the only households who have not yet switched are your household and one other neighbor. In this case, you will be psychological motivated to change to the new bags as soon as possible in order to avoid being the last household to make the switch. As illustrated by this example, people determine whether or not to participate in new systems by considering their own expectations towards the results of the system, and by considering their expectations towards the behavior of others.

A great number of books have been published based on research successes up until now.

Furthermore, this formation of expectations is greatly influenced by normative values which are rooted in each society.

"There may be a difference in the way in which Japanese have expectations towards a new Prime Minister and the way in which Americans have expectations towards a new President. Due to normative values that have been historically embraced by that society and due to environmental conditions at the time, there will be a change in the influence that the variable of expectations has on the functions of systems. This is true even in the case of identical systems. In order to clarify these differences, I believe that an analytical perspective based on normative theory is necessary." (Professor Tanaka)

A continuous educational system that is unprecedented throughout the world

In March 2009, Waseda University President Katsuhiko Shirai presented an Honorary Doctor Degree to Mr. Kenneth Arrow (Professor Emeritus at Stanford University).

In 2012, a new course in international politic science and economics will be completed at the Waseda University Faculty of Political Science and Economics. This course will span from undergraduate school to the graduate school doctoral program and will eliminate the barrier of separate majors in political science and economics. In the same year, the "GLOPE II" program of this institute will end. A continuous educational research system of this level in unprecedented throughout the world.

"A major impetus is that, during the original establishment of Waseda, the School of Political Science and Economics was started without separating the fields of political science and economics. Other Japanese universities followed the German tradition in which political science existed within the School of Law and was separated from the School of Economics. However, Waseda followed the tradition of England in which political science and economics were included within the same department. Afterwards, the department evolved into an undergraduate school and, within the trends of that period, the political science department and the economics department separated and evolved independently. However, thanks to efforts made in recent years, the previous integrity of these fields is being restored. A continuous political science and economics program of this level has not been achieved even at England's Oxford University, where the tradition originated, or at other universities in Europe and America." (Professor Tanaka)

Mr. Kenneth Arrow, encircled by graduate students

So far, Joseph Stiglitz, Douglass North, and Kenneth Arrow, all illustrious recipients of the Nobel Prize for Economics, have been invited to give lectures. In addition to lectures held in auditoriums, small workshops for the exchange of opinions with graduate students have always been held at the time of those visits.

"When developing this new field, academic staff and students have surpassed the relationship of teaching and being taught. Instead, there is an emphasis on cooperation between staff and students to engage in new themes and to grow together while sharing the research process. I hope that, even when interacting with scholars on a Nobel Prize level, students will be able to hold discussions based on shared aspirations and to gain some inspiration for their activities." (Professor Tanaka)

A summer seminar for graduate students (summer of 2008)

In 2012, the year that the Global COE "GLOPE II" program will end, Waseda predicts the emergence of the first students to complete the doctoral program after passing through the continuous education of this new course in international political science and economics. There are great expectations for future results from these students, who are truly the culmination of work to simultaneously advance reforms in research and education.

Waseda University Global COE Institute "GLOPE II" (Waseda Center for Global Political Economy)

Waseda University Faculty of Political Science and Economics

Waseda University School of Political Science and Economics

Waseda University Graduate School of Political Science

Waseda University Graduate School of Economics

Waseda University Okuma School of Public Management

Waseda University Institute for Research in Contemporary Political and Economic Affairs