Handbook on Theories of Governance
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Handbook on Theories of Governance

Edited by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing

In the past two decades, governance theories have arisen semi-independently across multiple disciplines. In law and regulation, planning, democratic theory, economics, public management, and international relations, among other disciplines, scholars have sought to describe new strategies of governing. As a result, the notion of governance is now one of the most frequently used social science concepts in the world. No single theory encompasses this diverse body of work, but rather multiple theories with different aims and perspectives. The Handbook on Theories of Governance collects these theories of governance together as an analytical resource for governing in an increasingly complex, fragmented and dynamic society.
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Chapter 30: Complexity theory and systems analysis

Christopher Koliba, Lasse Gerrits, Mary Lee Rhodes and Jack W. Meek


The recognition that wicked problems persist across and are to be resolved within poly-centric governance arrangements, and that policies are a deeply contingent phenomenon, serves as the foundation for contemporary applications of complexity science and theory to the study of governance. This chapter traces important foundations that contribute to our understanding of complexity, network and systems theories and methodologies in addressing wicked and persistent problems. In the process, we emphasize important tasks of integrating complexity theory and methods with governance research, a focus on system levels of governance, and the development of complexity-friendly methods in this developing field of research. The implications for harnessing complexity for good governance are drawn.

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