Applications and Frontiers
Edited by Victor Galaz
Chapter 12: Leadership and complexity: can individuals make differences in complex systems?
Societies are complex adaptive systems (SCAS), ‘ecosystems of complex interactions between groups of citizens-consumers-producers and their governance systems’. These systems emerge out of endless interactions and seem to have a will of their own. Complexity Leadership Theory identifies, next to classic administrative leadership, a new world of adaptive leadership, where new knowledge is generated in heterogeneous informal networks, separated from administrative power. Both sub-dynamics co-evolve separately, connected by boundary spanning enablers. Informal networks foster trust across social divides, synchronizing interventions in different subsystems. Trust emerges along with joint narratives for system adaptation, like socio-technical transitions. They try to widely resonate their narratives. Their next step depends on what resonates and can be fit in their narrative that co-evolves with the SCAS without affecting their deepest values. Complexity leadership behaviour itself can also spread through the system by means of stigmergy. It can be researched by sophisticated methods.
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