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We study a prototypical model of a Parliament with two Parties or two Political Coalitions and we show how the introduction of a variable percentage of randomly selected independent legislators can increase the global efficiency of a Legislature, in terms of both the number of laws passed and the average social welfare obtained. We also analytically find an "efficiency golden rule" which allows to fix the optimal number of legislators to be selected at random after that regular elections have established the relative proportion of the two Parties or Coalitions. These results are in line with both the ancient Greek democratic system and the recent discovery that the adoption of random strategies can improve the efficiency of hierarchical organizations.
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arXiv:1103.1224v1 [physics.soc-ph] 7 Mar 2011
epl draft
Accidental Politicians: How Randomly Selected Legislators Can
Improve Parliament Efficiency
A. Pluchino1, C. Garofalo2, A. Rapisarda1, S. Spagano3and M. Caserta3
1Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Universit`a di Catania, and INFN sezione di Catania, - Via S. Sofia 64,
I-95123 Catania, Italy
2Dipartimento di Analisi dei Processi Politici, Sociali e Istituzionali, Universit´a di Catania, Via Vittorio Emanuele
II 8, I-95131 Catania, Italy
3Dipartimento di Economia e Metodi Quantitativi, Universit´a di Catania, Corso Italia 55, I-95100 Catania, Italy
PACS 89.75.-k – Complex systems
PACS 89.65.-s – Social and economic systems
PACS 02.50.Le – Decision theory and game theory
PACS 87.23.Ge – Dynamics of social systems
Abstract. - We study the prototypical model of a Parliament with two Parties or two Political
Coalitions and we show how the introduction of a variable percentage of randomly selected inde-
pendent legislators can increase the global efficiency of a Legislature, in terms of both number of
laws passed and average social welfare obtained. We also analytically find an ”efficiency golden
rule” which allows to fix the optimal number of legislators to be selected at random after that
regular elections have established the relative proportion of the two Parties or Coalitions. These
results are in line with both the ancient Greek democratic system and the recent discovery that
the adoption of random strategies can improve the efficiency of hierarchical organizations.
Introduction. – In ancient Greece, the cradle of
democracy, governing bodies were largely selected by lot
[1–6]. The aim of this device was to avoid typical de-
generations of any representative institution [7]. In mod-
ern democracies, however, the standard is choosing rep-
resentatives by vote through the Party system. Debate
over efficiency of Parliament has therefore been centred
on voting systems, on their impact on parliamentary per-
formances and, ultimately, on the efficiency of economic
system [8–12]. In this paper, rediscovering the old Greek
wisdom and recalling a famous diagram about human na-
ture by C.M.Cipolla [13], we show how the injection of a
measure of randomness improves the efficiency of a par-
liamentary institution. In particular, we develop an agent
based model [14] of a prototypical Parliament and find
an analytical expression, whose predictions are confirmed
by the simulations, that determines the exact number of
randomly selected legislators, in an otherwise elected par-
liament, required to optimize its aggregate performance
(number of approved acts times average social gain). This
result is also in line with the recent discovery [15,16] that,
under certain conditions, the adoption of random promo-
tion strategies improves the efficiency of a human hierar-
chical organization.
The paper is organized as follows. In the first section we
describe the Parliament model and its dynamics. In the
second section we present the main numerical and analyti-
cal results. Then we discuss several historical examples in
order to give an empirical support to our findings. Finally,
conclusions and remarks are drawn.
The Parliament Model. – Human societies need
institutions [17–19], since they set the context for indi-
viduals to trade among themselves. They are expected,
therefore, to have an impact on the final outcome of those
trading relations [20,21]. This paper looks at a specific in-
stitution, the Parliament, designed to hold the legislative
power and to fix the fundamental rules of society.
The Cipolla Diagram. A Parliament can be modeled
as resulting from the aggregate behavior of a number of
legislators, who are expected to make proposals and vote.
In so doing they are pictured as moved by personal in-
terests, like re-election or other benefits, and by a general
interest. Taking both motivations into account, it is pos-
sible to represent individual legislators as points li(x, y)
(with i= 1, ..., N ) in a diagram (see Fig.1), where we fix
A. Pluchino1 C. Garofalo2 A. Rapisarda1 S. Spagano3 M. Caserta 3
arbitrarily the range of both axes in the interval [1,1],
with personal gain on the x-axis and social gain on the
y-axis. Each legislator will be therefore described through
his/her attitude to promote personal and general interest.
This diagram takes after a very famous one proposed in
1976 by the economic historian Carlo M. Cipolla [13], who
represented human population according to its ability to
promote personal or social interests, coming up with four
different categories of people: Intelligent people (points in
the top right quadrant, i.e. individuals whose actions pro-
duce a gain for both themselves and other people), Help-
less/Naive people (points in the top left quadrant, i.e. in-
dividuals whose actions produce a loss for themselves but
a gain for other people), Bandits (points in the bottom
right quadrant, i.e. individuals whose actions produce a
gain for themselves but a loss for other people) and Stupid
people (points in the bottom left quadrant, i.e. individuals
whose actions produce a loss for themselves and also for
other people). Of course people do not always act consis-
tently: for example, under certain circumstances a given
person acts intelligently and under different circumstances
helplessly. Therefore each point in the Cipolla diagram
represents the weighted average position of the actions of
the correspondent person.
The basic idea of this study is to use the Cipolla classifica-
tion in order to elaborate a prototypical agent based model
[14] of a Parliament with only one Chamber, consisting of
N= 500 members and K= 2 Parties or Coalitions, and to
evaluate its efficiency in terms of both approved acts and
average social gain ensured. In particular, all the points
representing members of a Party will lie inside a circle
with a given radius riand with a center Pi(x, y) falling
in one of the four quadrants. Of course we are not inter-
ested here in classifying individuals or Parties (considered
as a whole) as intelligent, bandits, helpless or stupid, but
only in representing them according to their attitude to
promote personal or social interest. The center of each
Party is fixed by the average collective behavior of all its
members, while the size of the respective circle indicates
the extent to which the Party tolerates dissent within it:
the larger the radius, the greater the degree of tolerance
within the Party. Therefore, we call the circle associated
to each Party circle of tolerance.
It is clear that, in real Parliaments, the fact of belonging
to a Party increases, for a legislator, the likelihood that
his/her proposals are approved. But it is also quite likely
that the social gain resulting from a set of approved pro-
posals will be on average reduced if all the legislators fall
within the influence of some Party (more or less author-
itarian). In fact, even proposals with little contribution
to social welfare will be approved if Party discipline pre-
vails, while, if legislators were allowed to act according to
their judgement, bad proposals would not receive a large
approval. Therefore, the main goal of this paper is to ex-
plore how the global efficiency of a Parliament may be
affected by the introduction of a given number Nind of in-
dependent members, i.e. randomly elected legislators free
Fig. 1: Cipolla Diagram. Each point in this diagram, with
coordinates in the intervals [1,1], represents a member of a
given realization of our Parliament model, according to his/her
attitude to promote personal or social interests. The Parlia-
ment consists of N= 500 members: black points represent
Nind = 250 independent legislators, while green and red points
refer to the remaining members, belonging to the majority
(51%) and minority (49%) Parties respectively. The circles
of tolerance of the two Parties, with equal radius r=0.3, are
explicitly drawn (notice that some free points could appar-
ently fall within the circle of tolerance of some Party, but of
course the correspondent legislators will remain independent).
Finally, the two grey areas indicate the acceptance windows of
the independent legislator li(x, y ) and of the Party P1.
from the influence of any Party, which will be represented
as free points on the Cipolla diagram.
Dynamics of the Model. The dynamics of the model
is the following. During a Legislature Leach legislator
(agent) lican perform only two simple actions: (i) propos-
ing an act and (ii) voting (for or against) a proposal.
The first action does not depend on the membership of the
agent: each legislator proposes one or more acts of Parlia-
ment (an, with n= 1, ..., Na, being Nathe total number of
acts proposed by all the legislators during the Legislature
L), with a given personal and social advantage depending
on his/her position on the diagram (i.e. an(x, y)li(x, y)
for every act proposed). It follows that legislators belong-
ing to a Party can propose acts which are not perfectly in
agreement with the Party’s common position, as function
of their distance from the center Pi(x, y) of the correspon-
dent circle of tolerance.
The action of voting for, or against, a proposal is more
complex and strictly depends on the membership of the
voter and on his/her acceptance window. The acceptance
window is a rectangular window on the Cipolla diagram
into which a proposed act an(x, y ) has to fall in order to
Accidental Politicians: How Randomly Selected Legislators Can Improve Parliament Efficiency
be accepted by the voter, whose position fixes the lower
left corner of the window (see Fig.1). This follows from
the assumption that legislators are able to recognize bet-
ter and worst proposals than their ones, but only accept
proposals better (or equal) than their ones.
The main point is that, while each free legislator has
his/her own acceptance window, so that his/her vote is
independent from the others vote, all the legislators be-
longing to a Party always vote by using the same accep-
tance window, whose lower left corner corresponds to the
center of the circle of tolerance of their Party. Further-
more, any member of a Party accepts all the proposals
coming from any another member of the same Party. But,
while the perception of the social advantage y(an) (i.e. the
y-coordinate) of a given act ancan be likely considered
as unambiguously determined for each legislator or Party,
the perception of the personal advantage x(an) (i.e. the
x-coordinate of an) cannot. Indeed, the fact that a certain
anwould be favorable for a given legislator, does not im-
ply that it should be favorable for another legislator or for
a Party. Therefore, the coordinate x(an) of any proposed
act has to be different for any legislator or Party and will
be expressed by a random number x, called voting point,
uniformly extracted in the interval [1,1].
Finally, calling Nacc the number of the accepted acts, the
efficiency Ef f (L) of a Legislature is calculated as:
Ef f (L) = (Nacc
·100) ·1
y(am) (1)
i.e. as the product of the percentage of accepted acts
times the average social welfare Y(L) ensured by these
acts. Therefore it is a real number included in the interval
[-100,100]. In order to obtain a global efficiency measure
independent of the particular configuration of Parliament,
simulation results for Eq.(1) has been further averaged
over 100 Legislatures, each one with Na= 1000 proposals
and a different distribution of legislators and Parties on
the Cipolla diagram.
Simulation Results. – In Fig.2 we plot the global
efficiency of the Parliament for three different sizes of the
two Parties (panel (a): 51%-49%; panel (b): 60%-40%;
panel (c): 80%-20%), as function of an increasing number
Nind of independent legislators. In all the three panels
the two extreme cases, corresponding to Nind = 0 (only
Parties) and Nind =N(no Parties), show a very small ef-
ficiency (close to zero). On the other hand, a pronounced
peak in the global efficiency is always obtained between
these extremes, thus identifying an optimal number N
of independent legislators (see vertical dashed lines). This
peak, very sharp in panel (a) with N
ind = 20, becomes
broader and shifts to the right in panels (b) and (c), with
ind = 140 and N
ind = 280 respectively. Such an effect
suggests that, if the two competing Parties have a sim-
ilar size, even a small number of independent members
present in the Parliament, playing a role of balance, can
Fig. 2: Simulation Results. The global efficiency of a Parlia-
ment with N= 500 members and two Parties P1and P2, with
circles of tolerance of two sizes, r= 0.1 (circles) and r= 0.4
(squares), is plotted as function of an increasing number of
independent legislators Nind . Each point represents an aver-
age over 100 Legislatures, each one with 1000 proposals of acts
of Parliament coming from randomly selected legislators. The
three panels differ in the percentage of the (NNind) members
assigned to the two Parties. In Panel (a): 51%, 49%; Panel (b):
60%, 40%; Panel (c): 80%, 20%. In all the panels, for a spe-
cific N
ind (indicated by a red dashed line), it is visible a peak
in efficiency which shifts from left to right going from the top
to the bottom panel and whose value decreases increasing the
radius of the Parties.
A. Pluchino1 C. Garofalo2 A. Rapisarda1 S. Spagano3 M. Caserta 3
fairly improve the global efficiency. On the contrary, when
one Party is quite bigger that the other one, the number
of independent legislators required for enhancing the effi-
ciency of the Parliament increases.
Let us discuss in detail, first, the results obtained in the
two limiting cases of a Parliament with Nind = 0 or
Nind =N.
Parliament with 2 Parties and Nind = 0.The ef-
ficiency of a Parliament with Nmembers in absence of
independent legislators strictly depends, for a given Legis-
lature L, on the random position of the centers of the two
Parties, with coordinates, respectively, x(P1), y(P1) and
x(P2), y(P2) over the Cipolla diagram (see Fig.1), but also
on their size (in terms of percentage of members) and on
the radius rof their circle of tolerance. Suppose to as-
sign a percentage pof legislators to P1and the remaining
(100p) to P2. Let us to consider a sequence of Na= 1000
acts of Parliament, proposed each time by a randomly cho-
sen legislator. Actually, in the further limiting case of a
radius r= 0, we have the following two possibilities:
(i) If y(P2)< y(P1), only and all the acts of Parliament
coming from Party P1will be accepted, since members of
P1will never vote for any proposal coming from P2, and
the percentage of accepted proposal during the Legisla-
ture Lwill be equal to the percentage p of members of
Party P1; it follows that the average social welfare Y(L)
of the accepted acts will approximately coincide with the
y-coordinate of P1, i.e. Y(L)y(P1).
(ii) If y(P2)> y(P1), in addition to all the proposals of P1,
will be also accepted those proposals of P2which will ran-
domly fall in the acceptance window of P1. This will de-
pend on the coordinate x(P1) and will occur with a prob-
ability 1x(P1)
2(such a probability is 1 for x(P1) = 1 and
0 for x(P1) = 1), thus yielding a correspondent increment
in both the percentage of accepted proposals and the av-
erage social welfare with respect to the previous case. Of
course non-null values of the radius rwill produce slight
modifications in these predictions.
Results of Fig.2 (where averages over 100 Legislatures,
each one with a different position of P1and P2over the
Cipolla diagram, have been considered) confirm the pre-
vious arguments. In all the three panels we observe, in
correspondence of Nind = 0, small values of the global
efficiency, calculated by the expression of Eq.(1). These
values derive from the product of the number of accepted
proposals, which oscillates between the percentage pof
members in the majority Party and 100%, and an almost
null value of the average social welfare, due to the fact
that, when one averages over the entire set of 100 Leg-
islatures, the values of y(P1) result uniformly distributed
along the y-axis. Therefore, a Parliament with two Parties
and without independent legislators free from the influence
of Parties results to be not very efficient.
Parliament with no Parties and Nind =N.Let us
consider, now, the opposite situation in which only inde-
pendent legislators are present in the Parliament. In this
Fig. 3: Efficiency Golden Rule. The optimal number of inde-
pendent legislators N
ind is plotted (full circles) as function of
the size p(in percentage) of the majority Party P1, for our
Parliament with N= 500 members and two Parties. An av-
erage over 100 Legislatures, each one with 1000 proposals of
acts of Parliament, has been performed for each point. This
plot is invariant for values of the radius of the Parties in the
range [0.1,0.5]. The dashed line represents the prediction of
the efficiency golden rule (see text).
case no Parties exist and the points li(x, y), correspond-
ing to the N= 500 members of Parliament, are uniformly
distributed over the Cipolla diagram (see Fig.1). It is ev-
ident that now a given act of Parliament an(x, y) will be
accepted only if the majority N
2+1 of these points will ful-
fill the prescriptions y(lj)< y(an) and x(lj)< x(an), be-
ing x(an) the x-coordinate of the voting point an(x, y),
randomly extracted with uniform distribution over the
straight line of equation y=y(an) for each legislator lj
which is requested to vote for an.
Being li(x, y) uniformly distributed on the plane, for a
given value of y(an) only about 50% of the ˜
N(an) legisla-
tors with y(lj)< y(an) will accept the proposal. But such
a number will be clearly lower than N
2unless y(an)1: in
fact, only in this latter case the half-plane y < y(an) will
coincide with the entire Cipolla diagram and ˜
Thus it follows that, during a Legislature L, only a very
small number of proposals will be accepted, but with a
very high social gain y(an)1. In conclusion, the prod-
uct of these two quantities, further averaged over 100 Leg-
islatures, each one with a different random distribution
of legislators over the Cipolla diagram, will stay again
near to zero, giving the small global efficiency observed for
Nind = 500 in all the three panels of Fig.2. This means
that it seems not to be advantageous to eliminate com-
pletely Parties from a Parliament.
The Efficiency Golden Rule. At variance with the rel-
atively simple behavior of the system in the two limiting
Accidental Politicians: How Randomly Selected Legislators Can Improve Parliament Efficiency
cases Nind = 0 and Nind =N, the general case with
0< Nind < N is much more complex to manage and
it is absolutely not trivial to predict the efficiency value
of the peaks shown in the three panels of Fig.2, which
stays approximately constant although it depends on all
the features that affect the voting process. However, quite
surprisingly, a simple argument can be advanced in order
to find the optimal number N
ind of independent legislators
as function of the size p(in percentage) of the majority
Actually, we can intuitively suppose that, in a given Leg-
islature and in presence of two Parties with different sizes,
none of which would have the absolute majority of the
members in the Parliament (due to the presence of in-
dependent members), N
ind would be in some way corre-
lated with the minimum number of independent legislators
which, added to the majority Party P1, allows to reach the
threshold of N
2+ 1 members necessary to accept a given
proposal an. But we know from the previous subsection
that, being the independent legislators lj(x, y) uniformly
distributed over the Cipolla diagram, for a given value of
y(an) only about 50% of all the independent members with
y(lj)< y(an) will vote for the proposal, equivalent to the
N(an) points lying in the left half of the half-plane below
the line of equation y=y(an). Such a rule continues to
apply also in the presence of Parties. In this case, being a
generic y(an) randomly distributed over the y-axis during
many Legislatures, we can safely assume that, in average,
the line y=y(an) will coincide with the x-axis, there-
fore, for a given Nind , only Nind
4independent members
(i.e. those lying in the left half of the half-plane y < 0)
will vote the proposal. Thus, in order to find N
ind, it is
enough to add this number to the number of members of
the majority Party P1, i.e. (NN
100 , and to impose
the following equality:
100 +N
2+ 1 (2)
Finally, solving this equation with respect to N
ind, one
easily obtains:
ind =2N4N·(p/100) + 4
14·(p/100) .(3)
This prediction closely matches the numerical results of
simulations performed for several values of p, as shown in
Fig.3. We checked that it is verified for several sizes N
of the Parliament and that is independent of the number
of Legislatures and of the number of proposals for each
Legislature. Being also independent of the radius of the
circles of tolerance of the Parties, we argue that Eq.(3)
could be considered an universal golden rule for optimiz-
ing the efficiency of any social situation with two com-
peting groups of elected people through the introduction
of randomly selected independent voters. Thinking of a
practical application for a real Parliament, the knowledge
of the golden rule would allow to fix the optimal number
of accidental politicians to be chosen at random, by pick-
ing them up from a given list of candidates (i.e. ordinary
citizens fitting the requirements), after that regular elec-
tions have established the relative proportion of the two
Parties or Coalitions.
Discussion and Historical Review. – Probably,
for a modern political observer, our findings could sound
very strange. In fact, today, most people think that
democracy means elections, i.e. believe that only electoral
mechanism could ensure representativeness in democracy.
However, as already anticipated in the introduction, in the
first significant democratic experience, namely the Athe-
nian democracy, elections worked side by side with random
selection (sortition) and direct participation. Actually, in
that period Parties did not exist at all and random selec-
tion was the basic criterion when the task was impossible
to be executed collectively in the Assembly, where usually
Athenian citizens directly made the most important deci-
sions. Of course only the names of those who wished to
be considered were inserted into the lottery machines, the
kleroteria [1–6].
Sortition was not used in Athens only. Probably, already
others Greek city-states adopted the Athenian method,
even if historical documentation is dubious. For sure,
many others cities in the history used some kind of lot
as rule, such as Bologna, Parma, Vicenza, San Marino,
Barcelona and some parts of Switzerland. Lot was also
used in Florence in the 13th and 14th century and in
Venice from 1268 until the fall of the Venetian Republic in
1797, providing opportunities to minorities and resistance
to corruption [22].
In the course of history, little by little, the concept of rep-
resentativeness overlapped with that of democracy, until
it became its synonymous. Consequently, today, in con-
temporary institutions, almost any random ingredient has
been expunged. Among the few historical vestiges of sor-
tition, there are the formation of juries in some judicial
process and the selection by lot in some public policy [23].
Actually, even if nowadays the information and communi-
cation technology would revitalize the possibility of direct
democracy, (the so-called E-democracy), this idea meets
opposition as much as random selection, since the rep-
resentative system, and his correlated Party system, is
strongly believed to be the only way to make society a
democratic place.
On the other hand, the drawbacks of Party system have
been well documented. For example, the iron law of oli-
garchy of the sociologist Robert Michels [7], states that
all forms of organization, democratic or not, inevitably
develop into oligarchies. The indispensability of leader-
ship, the tendency of all groups to defend their interests
and the passivity of represented people, are only a few of
the many reasons that deteriorate every democratic Party
system. In the representative democracy this process is
even institutionalized. Party elites act to serve the Party
and themselves, often at the expenses of the public in-
A. Pluchino1 and C. Garofalo2 and A. Rapisarda1 and S. Spagano3 and M. Caserta 3
terest. If some members of Parliament vote against the
Party line on any issue, these are likely to be ostracized,
expelled, or not endorsed at the next elections.
Of course free elections are an indubitable progress in com-
parison with authoritarian regimes, but today the electoral
system tends to form a democratic aristocracy, where rep-
resentatives are superior to the electorate. In particular,
the representativeness is organized by ideas, or classes,
which flow together into the Parties’ programs. Unfor-
tunately, this kind of organizations (in turn, institutions)
very slowly accept social changes because of several in-
comes that they ensure [9]. Therefore, in the last decades,
the idea of choosing representatives by random selection
has been re-introduced in political reflections and gained a
fair number of supporters. Demarchy, or statistical democ-
racy, is the name proposed by someone [24–32]. Accord-
ing to these supporters there would be several advantages
in the sortition method. For example, social and demo-
graphic features (income, race, religion, sex,) would get a
fair distribution in the parliament, so the interest of the
people would get a more effective representativeness and
politically active groups in society, who tend to be those
who join political Parties, would not be over-represented.
On the other hand, representatives appointed by sortition
do not owe anything to anyone for their position, so they
would be loyal only to their conscience, not to political
Party, also because they are not concerned in their re-
election. Furthermore, sortition may be less corruptible
than elections. It is easy to ensure a totally fair procedure
by lot. On the contrary the process of elections by vote
can be subject to manipulation by money and other pow-
erful means.
In this context our results, on one hand, confirm the poor
efficiency of a Parliament based only on Parties or Coali-
tions (see the case Nind = 0) but, on the other hand, cor-
roborate the constructive role of independent, randomly
selected, legislators. In any case, it is worthwhile to stress
that, in our proposal, the electoral system is not elimi-
nated at all but only integrated with a given (exactly de-
termined) percentage of randomness.
Before closing this section, let us remark that our find-
ings are also perfectly in line with recent studies [15, 16]
about the effectiveness of random promotion strategies in
hierarchical organizations. In these studies, that one of
promoting people at random has been shown to be, under
certain conditions, a convenient way to circumvent the ef-
fects of the so-called ”Peter Principle” [33] and to increase
the efficiency of a given pyramidal or modular organiza-
tion. We think that random selection could be of help in
contrast Peter Principle effects also in the context of par-
liamentary institutions, which are exposed to analogous
risks linked to the change of competences required to the
elected people in their new political positions.
Conclusions and Remarks. – In this paper, by
means of a prototypical Parliament model based on
Cipolla classification, we demonstrated that the fact of in-
troducing a well-defined number of random members into
the Parliament improves the efficiency of this institution
and the social overall welfare that depends on its acts. In
this respect, the exact number of random members has
to be established after the elections, on the basis of the
electoral results and of our analytical ”golden rule”: the
greater the size difference between the Parties, the greater
the number of members that should be lotted to increase
the efficiency of Parliament.
Of course our prototypical model of Parliament does not
represent all the real parliamentary institutions around
the world in their detailed variety, so there could be many
possible way to extend it. For example it would be inter-
esting to study the consequences of different electoral sys-
tems by introducing more than two Parties in the Parlia-
ment, with all the consequences deriving from it. Also the
government form could be important: our simple model
is directly compatible with a presidential system, where
there is no relationship between Parliament and Govern-
ment, whereas, in the case of a parliamentary system, also
such a link should to be considered in order to evaluate
the overall social welfare. For simplicity, we chose to study
a unicameral Parliament, whereas several countries adopt
bicameralism. So, the presence of another chamber could
bring to subsequent interesting extensions of the model.
Finally, we expect that there would be also several other
social situations, beyond the Parliament, where the intro-
duction of random members could be of help in improving
the efficiency.
In conclusion, we think that the introduction of random
selection systems, rediscovering the wisdom of ancient
democracies, would be broadly beneficial for modern in-
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... This kind of misleading evaluation ends up switching cause and e®ect, rating as the most talented people those who are, simply, the luckiest ones [45,46]. In line with this perspective, in previous works, it was advanced a warning against such a kind of \naive meritocracy" and it was shown the e®ectiveness of alternative strategies based on random choices in many di®erent contexts, such as management, politics and¯nance [47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54]. In Sec. 3, we provide an application of our approach and sketch a comparison of possible public funds attribution schemes in the scienti¯c research context. ...
... In other words, if luck matters, and if it matters more than we are willing to admit, it is not strange that meritocratic strategies reveal less e®ective than expected, in particular, if we try to evaluate merit ex-post. In the previous studies [47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54], there was already a warning against this sort of \naive meritocracy", showing the e®ectiveness of alternative strategies based on random choices in management, politics and¯nance. Consistently with such a perspective, the TvL model shows how the minimum level of success of the most talented people can be increased, in a world where luck is important and serendipity is often the cause of important discoveries. ...
... The latter is a further con¯rmation that, in complex social and economical contexts where chance plays a relevant role, the e±ciency of alternative strategies based on random choices can easily overtake that of standard strategies based on the \naively meritocratic" approach. Such a counterintuitive phenomenon, already observed in management, politics and¯nance [47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54],¯nds therefore new evidence also in the research funding context. ...
Full-text available
This paper further investigates the Talent versus Luck (TvL) model described by [Pluchino et al. Talent versus luck: The role of randomness in success and failure, Adv. Complex Syst. 21 (2018) 1850014] which models the relationship between ‘talent’ and ‘luck’ on the impact of an individuals career. It is shown that the model is very sensitive to both random sampling and the choice of value for the input parameters. Running the model repeatedly with the same set of input parameters gives a range of output values of over 50% of the mean value. The sensitivity of the inputs of the model is analyzed using a variance-based approach based upon generating Sobol sequences of quasi-random numbers. When using the model to look at the talent associated with an individual who has the maximum capital over a model run it has been shown that the choice for the standard deviation of the talent distribution contributes to 67% of the model variability. When investigating the maximum amount of capital returned by the model the probability of a lucky event at any given epoch has the largest impact on the model, almost three times more than any other individual parameter. Consequently, during the analysis of the model results one must keep in mind the impact that only small changes in the input parameters can have on the model output.
... prominent arguments and compelling evidence suggesting that the use of proxy measures can corrupt such systems (table 1 [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]). ...
... Illustratory examples of goals, proxies and corruption claims in proxy-based competititive systems. [1][2][3][4][5][6] bad patient care, overtreatment [7,8] teaching to the test [9,10] populism, lobbycracy [11,12] financial crises, global warming [13][14][15][16][17][18] For any competitive societal system to achieve an abstract goal, it must rely on proxy measures. However, any proxy measure becomes a target for the competing individuals (or groups). ...
... The degree to which the proxy captures true and incorruptible information about the societal goal can then be represented as the angle between the main axes (goal angle; g [ ½0 , 180 ). Similar formalizations are routinely used in economics [13,72,74]), but have also been used to describe practices in scientific [1] as well as political [12] competition. A convenient way to describe proxy fidelity is by an information measure i ∈ [ − 1, 1], given simply by i = cos (γ). ...
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Competitive societal systems by necessity rely on imperfect proxy measures. For instance, profit is used to measure value to consumers, patient volumes to measure hospital performance, or the journal impact factor to measure scientific value. While there are numerous reasons why proxies will deviate from the underlying societal goals, they will nevertheless determine the selection of cultural practices and guide individual decisions. These considerations suggest that the study of proxy-based competition requires the integration of cultural evolution theory and economics or decision theory. Here, we attempt such an integration in two ways. First, we describe an agent-based simulation model, combining methods and insights from these disciplines. The model suggests that an individual intrinsic incentive can constrain a cultural evolutionary pressure, which would otherwise enforce fully proxy-oriented practices. The emergent outcome is distinct from that with either the isolated economic or evolutionary mechanism. It reflects what we term lock-in, where competitive pressure can undermine the ability of agents to pursue the shared social goal. Second, we elaborate the broader context, outlining the system-theoretic foundations as well as some philosophical and practical implications, towards a broader theory. Overall, we suggest such a theory may offer an explanatory and predictive framework for diverse subjects, ranging from scientific replicability to climate inaction, and outlining strategies for diagnosis and mitigation.
... Can the coming quantum era bring some hope for improvement? From that perspective, this work is similar in spirit with that of [17]. ...
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This paper introduces the first functional model of a quantum parliament that is dominated by two parties or coalitions, and may or may not contain independent legislators. We identify a single crucial parameter, aptly named free will radius, which can be used as a practical measure of the quantumness of the parties and the parliament as a whole. The free will radius used by the two parties determines the degree of independence that is afforded to the representatives of the parties. Setting the free will radius to zero degrades the quantum parliament to a classical one. On the other hand, setting the free will radius to its maximum value 1 makes the representatives totally independent. Moreover, we present a quantum circuit in Qiskit with which we simulate the operation of the quantum parliament under various scenarios. The experimental results allow us to arrive at some novel and fundamental conclusions that, we believe, provide new insights into the operation and the traits of a possible future quantum parliament. Finally, we propose the game “Passing the Bill,” which captures the operation of the quantum parliament and basic options available to the leadership of the two parties.
... Can the coming quantum era bring some hope for improvement? In that perspective, this work is similar in spirit with that of [15]. ...
Full-text available
This paper introduces the first functional model of a quantum parliament that is dominated by two parties or coalitions, and may or may not contain independent legislators. We identify a single crucial parameter, aptly named \emph{free will radius}, that can be used as a practical measure of the quantumness of the parties and the parliament as a whole. The free will radius used by the two parties determines the degree of independence that is afforded to the representatives of the parties. Setting the free will radius to zero degrades the quantum parliament to a classical one. On the other hand, setting the free will radius to its maximum value $1$, makes the representatives totally independent. Moreover, we present a quantum circuit with which we simulate in Qiskit the operation of the quantum parliament under various scenarios. The experimental results allow to arrive at some novel and fundamental conclusions that, we believe, provide new insights on the operation and the traits of a possible future quantum parliament. Finally, we propose the novel game of ``Passing the Bill,'' which captures the operation of the quantum parliament and basic options available to the leadership of the two parties.
... These patterns suggest that although members of the third coalition may be ideologically aligned with the dominant coalition and majority party, they nonetheless represent a breakaway faction that are highly effective despite their rejection of partisanship. Our ability to identify such a cluster is noteworthy because it provides empirical support for earlier simulation studies suggesting that the introduction of independent legislators to an existing two-party legislature can increase the body's overall legislative effectiveness 49 . Although these simulation studies might have been viewed as hinting at a strategy for reinvigorating democratic systems plagued by partisanship, our findings suggest it may already be in place in the US House of Representatives. ...
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In network science, identifying optimal partitions of a signed network into internally cohesive and mutually divisive clusters based on generalized balance theory is computationally challenging. We reformulate and generalize two binary linear programming models that tackle this challenge, demonstrating their practicality by applying them them to partition networks of collaboration in the US House of Representatives. These models guarantee a globally optimal network partition and can be practically applied to signed networks containing up to 30,000 edges. In the US House context, we find that a three-cluster partition is better than a conventional two-cluster partition, where the otherwise hidden third coalition is composed of highly effective legislators who are ideologically aligned with the majority party.
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Complex tasks often cannot be addressed with expertise, but instead by assembling a diverse cognitive repertoire in teams. In such cases, engaging diversity may enhance performance. Yet various behavioral and social limits often deter organizations from recognizing or integrating valuable diversity. I argue that random selection is an undervalued tool for capturing the diversity bonus because it helps address: (1) the paradox of merit, by avoiding fruitless deliberation; (2) biased reasoning, by deciding on the basis of no reason; and (3) learning traps, by discovering self-confirming false beliefs. More generally, incorporating random selection in organizational design can generate a less-is-more effect: deciding by blind luck means exercising less control over outcomes but achieving more by saving time and resources, as well as detecting and sanitizing biased reasons.
In 1969, the psychologist Laurence J. Peter made a observation about how organizations promote its members: “The members of an organization climb the hierarchy until the level of maximum incompetence”. The first computational study on this principle suggests that promoting members randomly is the safest strategy. Here, we modify the original model adding the diversity of competences and learning. Our results suggest that, even though the Peter principle negatively affects the efficiency of a business, this effect is less drastic than the one suggested in the previous work when adding the new ingredients. The strategy of promoting the individual with the best performance in a level really seems to be the best strategy, recovering the common sense hypothesis.
In this paper we present a new analytical model of a Parliament and investigate the beneficial effects of the selection of legislators by lot in order to reduce some of the drawbacks of modern representative democracies. Resorting to sortition for the selection of public officers used to be in the past a popular way of taming factionalism in public affairs. Factionalism is assumed to be detrimental since public officers tend to favour their own faction instead of pursuing the general interest. In this respect our mathematical model shows in a rigorous way how it is possible to improve the efficiency of a Parliament by introducing the use of sortition to select part of its members. It will be shown that, starting from a Parliament working with two parties (or coalitions), where the costs of representative democracy are quite apparent through the detrimental effects of party discipline, one can beneficially move towards a Parliament where independent, randomly selected legislators sit alongside elected members. In particular, we show that increasing the number of independent legislators up to a critical point enhances the efficiency of the Parliament and puts into check the factionalism likely to arise from party discipline.
New Institutional Economics (NIE) has skyrocketed in scope and influence over the last three decades. This first Handbook of NIE provides a unique and timely overview of recent developments and broad orientations. Contributions analyse the domain and perspectives of NIE; sections on legal institutions, political institutions, transaction cost economics, governance, contracting, institutional change, and more capture NIE's interdisciplinary nature. This Handbook will be of interest to economists, political scientists, legal scholars, management specialists, sociologists, and others wishing to learn more about this important subject and gain insight into progress made by institutionalists from other disciplines. This compendium of analyses by some of the foremost NIE specialists, including Ronald Coase, Douglass North, Elinor Ostrom, and Oliver Williamson, gives students and new researchers an introduction to the topic and offers established scholars a reference book for their research.
New institutional economics (NIE) studies institutions and how institutions interact with organizational arrangements. Institutions are the written and unwritten rules, norms and constraints that humans devise to reduce uncertainty and control their environment. These include (i) written rules and agreements that govern contractual relations and corporate governance, (ii) constitutions, laws and rules that govern politics, government, finance, and society more broadly, and (iii) unwritten codes of conduct, norms of behavior, and beliefs. Organizational arrangements are the different modes of governance that agents implement to support production and exchange. These include (i) markets, firms, and the various combinations of forms that economic actors develop to facilitate transactions and (ii) contractual agreements that provide a framework for organizing activities, as well as (iii) the behavioral traits that underlie the arrangements chosen. In studying institutions and their interaction with specific arrangements, new institutionalists have become increasingly concerned with mental models and other aspects of cognition that determine how humans interpret reality, which in turn shape the institutional environment they build (North 1990, p. 3–6; Williamson 2000).
The first basic law of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation. At first, the statement sounds trivial, vague and horribly ungenerous. Closer scrutiny will however reveal its realistic veracity. No matter how high are one's estimates of human stupidity, one is repeatedly and recurrently startled by the fact that: a) people whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid. b) day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one's activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments. The First Basic Law prevents me from attributing a specific numerical value to the fraction of stupid people within the total population: any numerical estimate would turn out to be an underestimate. Thus in the following pages I will denote the fraction of stupid people within a population by the symbol å. THE SECOND BASIC LAW Cultural trends now fashionable in the West favour an egalitarian approach to life. People like to think of human beings as the output of a perfectly engineered mass production machine. Geneticists and sociologists especially go out of their way to prove, with an impressive apparatus of scientific data and formulations that all men are naturally equal and if some are more equal than others, this is attributable to nurture and not to nature. I take an exception to this general view. It is my firm conviction, supported by years of observation and experimentation,, that some are stupid and others are not, and that the difference is determined by nature and not by cultural forces or factors. One is stupid in the same way one is red-haired; one belongs to the stupid set as one belongs to a blood group. A stupid man is born a stupid man by an act of Providence. Although convinced that fraction of human beings are stupid and that they are so because of genetic traits, I am not a reactionary trying to reintroduce surreptitiously class or race discrimination. I firmly believe that stupidity is an indiscriminate privilege of all human groups and is uniformly distributed according to a constant proportion. This fact is scientifically expressed by the Second Basic Law which states that The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.