Editorial: Complexity theory and administrative learning—Adaptive practices in complex governance systems (1-6)
Institutional interventions in complex urban systems: Coping with boundary issues in urban planning projects (7-23)
Stefan Verweij, Ingmar F. van Meerkerk, Joop F.M. Koppenjan & Harry Geerlings
Urban planning projects are planned and organized through arrangements between actors. These arrangements are institutional interventions: they intervene in the institutional landscape as existing organizational boundaries are (temporarily) redrawn. Such boundary decisions are intended to simplify complexity. However, these boundary decisions also produce new complexities as new boundary issues arise. Our contribution investigates these boundary issues by studying and comparing three urban planning projects in the Rotterdam urban system (the Netherlands). The analysis shows that the boundary issues are often underestimated and that coping strategies are required to deal with them. Because boundary issues pose serious threats to the success or even survival of projects, management should invest in increasing the capacity to deal with (often unexpected) boundary issues.
Decision making in complex public service systems: Features and dynamics (24-41)
Jack Meek & Mary Lee Rhodes
This paper explores the processes of decision-making in complex public service systems – specifically metropolitan infrastructure projects. The aim is to identify the factors influencing decision-making and the strategic approaches to organizing arising from different combinations of these factors in multi-agent contexts. Through the examination of seven case studies in the US and Ireland, we propose a framework for assessing the decision environment interpret the patterns of emerging decision rules and structures as symptomatic of agencies operating complex public service systems.
Complex multi-state transportation collaborative (42-59)
Perry D. Gross
The Interstate 80 (I-80) Corridor System Master Plan (CSMP) study brought diverse stakeholders from California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming together for an in-depth dialogue. The collaborative was convened by the Nevada Department of Transportation with the intent to generate an ongoing enduring structure. Interactions were facilitated using virtual means such as conference calls. This assessment reviews the stakeholders’ activities through the first two years in terms of complexity and collaboration. Collaboration assessment used the lens of diversity, interdependence, and authentic dialogue theory based collaboration which is detailed. Complexity assessment employed agents, interactions, nonlinearity, systems and robustness, and adaptations characteristics previously identified by collaborative practitioners. Still emerging theory suggested each assessment be done independently and compared. The results revealed a collaborative presence within the stakeholder network and less telling complexity structure. Results enforced the notion that complexity properties require more time to identify particularly in virtual environments.
Making ecosystem-based management effective: identifying and evaluating empirical approaches to the governance of knowledge (60-76)
Diana Giebels & Victor N. de Jonge
In theory, ecosystem-based management (EBM) approaches are characterized by decision-making based on knowledge reflecting the complex character of the socio-ecological systems at hand. In practice, however, EBM approaches employ different knowledge governance approaches. This paper identifies four stereotypes of complexity approaching knowledge governance for EBM: holistic, database, alignment and the assessment approach. We conceptually define each stereotype and describe the type of knowledge governance it implies. We illustrate the empirical working of each stereotype by elaborating on representative cases from the North European Wadden Sea. We present an evaluation of the knowledge governance approaches identified by discussing the extent to which each of them is capable to handle EBM related knowledge challenges. Our results reveal that knowledge governance approaches inherit varying degrees of complexity approaching capacity, but that none of them is feasible to fully comply with EBM demands. Our results suggest that additional knowledge management efforts are needed to comprehend and enhance the effectiveness of EBM knowledge governance approaches.
Planning for adaptivity: Facing complexity in innovative urban water squares (77-99)
Nanny Bressers & Jurian Edelenbos
In this paper we describe how adaptive planning emerges from a tradition of blueprint planning, and analyze how different forms of planning are related to the implementation of innovative urban projects. We use two concepts from complexity sciences to discuss adaptive planning versus blueprint planning, namely the concept of contingency and the concept of (dissipative) self-organization. In our paper we demonstrate that the apparent dichotomy between blueprint planning and adaptive planning might not be as strict as often assumed. Our case study Water Square Rotterdam reveals how adaptive planning can coincide with elements of blueprint planning, shaped by so-called ‘situational responsive leadership’, with attention for context and complexity. Based on our case study, we argue that situational responsive leadership, with a mixture of adaptive and traditional project planning elements, improves successful implementation of innovative urban projects.
Complexity And Philosophy
Defining and exploring a complex system’s relational spaces (100-130)
Complex systems are dynamic networks of various nodes and linkages created in space operating in a particular place. Tools like Gephi reveal various classes of underlying interaction patterns such as small worlds in mathematical space but cannot determine how these mathematical processes nest within the full creative range of human thought, media, and embodiment that creates or produces a particular complex system or its propensity to evolve in certain direction in the first place. The purpose of this investigation is to unmask the propensity of a complex system’s dynamism of place as shaped by the human actor’s intuition of efficacy to do something to preserve or shape what is moving forward. I take the position that the place identity of all of a complex system’s nodes and links should not be ignored, and that relationships reified into analytical objects be seen rather as instrumental mathematical fictions, experimental protocols, or poetic creations as a relational place itself that, along with the complex system under study are woven together into the researcher’s narrative. My definition of space is a naturally occurring timeless awareness or suchness itself. The processes of places are not closed but open and relational, just as space is not closed. Places can evolve even as space is not bounded. No matter what a place’s propensity or a member actor’s intuition or hoped for efficacy, space has no inherent hierarchy or direction. Simultaneous multiple juxtapositions, and probes of ways of knowing are suggested as a means to investigate the propensity of a complex system’s nodes and links responding to the effects of an intuition of efficacy applied at multiple points.
The notion of emergence (131-168)
E.S. Russell, C.R. Morris and W. Leslie Mackenzie (with an introduction by Jeffrey A. Goldstein)
Adjacent opportunities: Mindful complexity (169-171)
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