This proposal is for a series of three conferences, to be held on a yearly basis, starting January 2002. These meetings are set in the framework of the Coalition Theory Network, an organisation jointly held by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Venice; Center for Operational Research and Econometrics, Louvain; Universite de Marseille; Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and the Southern Methodist University of Dallas.
This network brings together the leading scientists in the theory of coalition formation, and is admittedly the only existing series of high level academic meetings on this topic. The time schedule for the next three meetings is as follows:
- January2002: FEEM, Venice;
- January 2003: Universite de Marseille;
- January 2004: Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.
The objective of these meetings is twofold: to allow for rapid and continuous exchange of scientific results among leading scholars and between scholars and young researchers in the field; to allow for a close collaboration among academic researchers in fields related to coalition formation theory (e.g. climatologists and natural scientists) and between academics and policy makers, whose attendance has considerably increased in time.
Group formation is certainly one of the most relevant features of modern economic and social systems. Agents form groups (or "coalitions") for various reasons:
- Exploiting economies of scale (nations, regions, R&D associations) or a stronger market or bargaining position (unions, cartels),
- Risk sharing (economic unions),
- Solving inefficiencies due to uncoordinated policies (international cooperation),
- Satisfying basic communication needs (formation of relational networks).
The increasing importance of these phenomena calls for a better understanding of the incentives to communicate and form coalitions in various economic and social environments in problems characterised by high degrees of irreversibility (such as sustainable development, exploitation of exhaustible resources, formation of communication infrastructures), the need for sharp predictions and policy recommendations is particularly compelling since the timing of cooperation has serious effects on the welfare of future generations.
Although the relevance and urgency of these issues are generally acknowledged; a unanimously accepted theoretical framework of analysis is still missing. One of the main objectives of the proposed series of conferences is to encourage and coordinate research along two main lines:
1) The pursue of a general theory of coalition formation, predicting which groups will form as a consequence of the self - interested actions of socio-economic agents. In particular, concepts of equilibrium accounting for the increasing interdependence of coalitions and consistent with the observed persistence of multiple coalitions and partial cooperation (e.g. the Kyoto Conference on Climate Change and multiple trading areas) are needed.
2) A more applied type of research, aimed at producing policy recommendations in specific problems. The role of this line of research is twofold: allowing for prompt intervention in problems in which timing is a crucial variable; delivering computational results in problems for which analytical models have no solution.