Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science
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Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science

Theory and Applications

Edited by Eve Mitleton-Kelly, Alexandros Paraskevas and Christopher Day

This comprehensive Handbook is aimed at both academic researchers and practitioners in the field of complexity science. The book’s 26 chapters, specially written by leading experts, provide in-depth coverage of research methods based on the sciences of complexity. The research methods presented are illustratively applied to practical cases and are readily accessible to researchers and decision makers alike.
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Chapter 24: Applying the 15 complexity sciences: methods for studying emergence in organizations

Associate Professor Benyamin Lichtenstein


Complexity science has been described as an amalgam of ‘models, methods, and metaphors’ for understanding dynamic systems. Methods most commonly associated with complexity are computational simulations. Although these have contributed greatly to organization, they represent just one category of complexity methods. A main goal of this chapter is to introduce what the author considers to be the 15 sciences of complexity, organized into three main paradigms or approaches: computational agent-based modelling; natural sciences and idiographic analogies; and, narrative and multi-method studies. The chapter presents a set of complexity methods and models that may be much broader than the norm. Researchers can use these to help identify the appropriate complexity methods to use to answer a specific research question. The value of this is underlined by many scholars who argue that the choice of a research method should be based on the kind of question being asked, rather than the method most familiar to the researcher.

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