Emergent Structures and Geographical Scales: What It Means for Practical Policy Application
International Symposium on Urban Futures and Human Ecosystems Wellbeing, Shanghai China, 2010
9 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2011
Date Written: September 27, 2010
This paper is an examination of a class of complex adaptive systems, which spans the interactions of humans, organizations and organizational networks that cluster into industries and cities.
In complexity both positive and negative constraints shape the nature of complex systems structures. Individual humans lack clear constant systemic predictability, and further, organizations of humans may also exhibit poor predictable outcomes and behaviours. As outcomes may be unpredictable and may exhibit non-linear relationships, the behaviour of the complex system cannot be reduced to an exact description based on the behaviour of components at a lower level of the organization. Yet, these same complex behaviours may exhibit emergent properties that simplify our understanding of the complex system.
This paper argues that to understand the knowledge organization (rather than focusing on the knowledge exchange) it is important to evaluate the behaviours of the organizations’ individual members. There is a need to look at the emergent aspect of complex systems from a “biological” point of view. These concepts are relevant with regards to governance, policy and practical application. The difficult business of translating theory into field “practice” or policy implementation requires the integration of multi-focal awareness. More importance needs to be placed on why the knowledge flow exists in the first place. Looking deeper into the process of the development of informal networks across boundaries can highlight the structures and scales of knowledge flows and their influence as geographical emergent phenomena.
Keywords: Social and spatial scalability, unpredictability, social complex adaptive systems, emergent qualitative methodological approach
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