1st Edition

Governing Complexity in the 21st Century

By Neil E. Harrison, Robert Geyer Copyright 2021
    228 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    228 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Governing Complexity in the 21st Century surveys the ways in which social systems are becoming more complex. It shows how this complexity impacts every aspect of life for individuals, governments and societies in most social systems at individual, regional, national and global scales and explores how embracing ‘complexity thinking’ can greatly improve the art of governance in all policy areas.

    The book clearly explains the ideas and methods of complexity science—widely accepted in both the natural and social sciences—then demonstrates how ‘complexity thinking’ can be applied to improve our understanding of governance and policy actions. Providing a deep analysis of many governance challenges, including economic development and technological innovation, environment management, climate change and development in the Middle East, the book also compares national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Clear and jargon-free, this book is accessible to undergraduates and scholars alike. It is essential reading for policymakers everywhere, showcasing methods for governing effectively and efficiently in our increasingly complex world. It brings together the broad range of social and environmental science fields and will be useful for those studying or working in policy, politics and international relations, environmental issues, business management, philosophy, history and sociology.

    Introduction: From simplicity to complexity  Neil E. Harrison and Robert Geyer

    1. From order to complexity: The natural and social sciences  Robert Geyer and Neil E. Harrison

    2. From order to complexity in policy and governance  Robert Geyer and Neil E. Harrison

    3. Challenges to complexity, pragmatism and the case of Brexit  Robert Geyer and Neil E. Harrison

    4. History, complexity and governance  Jude Rowley, Robert Geyer and Neil E. Harrison

    5. Health, complexity and governance: The case of the COVID-19 pandemic  Robert Geyer and Neil E. Harrison

    6. Governance in development: The case of Middle East and North Africa  Samir Rihani

    7. Governing economy  Neil E. Harrison and Robert Geyer

    8. Governing earth: The importance of the local  Neil E. Harrison and Robert Geyer

    9. Governing global politics  Neil E. Harrison and Robert Geyer

    10. Conclusion  Neil E. Harrison and Robert Geyer


    Neil E. Harrison is Executive Director of The Sustainable Development Institute (since 2000) and holds a PhD from the University of Denver. His most recent work is with John Mikler—Capitalism for All (forthcoming)—and the edited volume Climate Innovation (2014).

    Robert Geyer is a Professor in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University (UK). His more recent works include: Handbook on Complexity and Public Policy (2015, edited with Paul Cairney) and   Complexity and Public Policy (2010, co-authored with Samir Rihani).


    Contributing authors:

    Samir Rihani has had an eclectic career in planning and development in the UK and Middle East. His publications include: Complex Systems Theory and Development Practice (2002) and Complexity and Public  Policy (2010, co-authored with Robert Geyer).

    Jude Rowley is a graduate student at Lancaster University, UK. His work centres around the intersection between history and international relations and draws upon concepts from complexity and the natural sciences.