Hi, Paolo, and all,
agreed on method vs. methodology. The SFM is an “approach”, mostly method, with some methodological reflection.
On the social dilemma, I would disagree: Look at the applications of the SFM (the Fullwiler/Elsner/Natarajan-edited book has quite a number of diverse applications, an older Groenewegen/Elsner vol. on industrial policy has another most interesting case by Greg and Steve Bolduc).
What I found most convincing in many of these cases is that, although not explicitly mentioned, many cases deal exactly with collective dilemmas, and show related collective lock-ins as a result of complex filled-in and “run” SFMs. It is getting very clear then that the collective lock-ins cannot be solved other than by value changes or institutional reform (and which ones). Something that we otherwise would not have recognized in the raw material, or would have needed very difficult verbal arguments to reach at. Or would have to apply, most insufficiently, an evolutionary game model (which I sometimes did).
As an instance, if you look at the Hayden/Bolduc chapter (#9) in the Groenewegen/Elsner Kluwer/Springer book of 2000 (old, but, at least, this century!), you will find a spectacular corporate-state locked-in system that explains why a Nebraska-based inter-state low radioactive waste disposal site will come out at a surprisingly huge expense of the taxpayer, a result of a one-sided “solution” of a collective dilemma, a win-lose PD-“solution”.
BTW, Greg, in the early 2000s, managed with this study (which went public even up to the national level) to prevent that project! An ideal case of what effect a study can have in the real world.
I would be glad if a new generation of early-career scholars would get aware of the SFM-approach, apply it and weave into it recent computational methods, where applicable. My impression is that Greg once succeeded to educate one, two generations of scholars who worked with the SFM, but some (including my own ex-PhD students and RAs) were more attracted by recent computational methods (they ARE institutionalists!).
So far for today.
my impression is that much of the discussion about the SFM is unclear - in terms of shifting agreements and disagreements - because of a confusion that is frequent within the discipline. Just to make my point, you cite the following remark on the SFM:
'The SFM “methodology is philosophically and theoretically developed from, and consistent with, the original evolutionary-institutional economics . . . and is one of the most comprehensive, empirical, and policy-relevant methodologies to come out of OIE”'.
I do not want to be pedantic but SFM is not a ‘methodology’ (‘the analysis of the principles or procedures of inquiry in a particular field’ – Merriam Webster) but a method (‘a way, technique, or process of or for doing something’ - ibid).
Whether a method (a tool) such as the SFM - or ABM - is most appropriate to deal with a specific problem depends on methodology. If I am carrying out a thought experiment – consider the ‘trivial’ issues underlying the Prisoners’ Dilemma - SFM may even be of no use at all. And, yet, thought experiments are important.