At this early stage in the scientific study of the future for policy purposes, a number of important methodological choices face social scientists. One important choice concerns the relative utility of forecasting by extrapolating trends or by using process models. The former is the more familiar method, and the latter is considered to be the more promising. After introducing a minimum number of essential concepts in the formal study of political systems by way of presenting an illustrative process model, we explore the effect that complexity has on the analytical tractability of the system. Consequent implications for the scientific study of policy are sketched out as appropriate.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.