These are blogs that we enjoy reading, that give us new inputs and food for thought and that also challenge some times our thinking and practice.
Books and Articles
There are of course an uncountable number of articles and books out there that we could present here. We want to limit ourselves, however, to articles and books that we think contributed significantly to our understanding of systems and complexity in connection with society and development in general and economic development in particular. This list is continuously growing, so check back regularly.
We maintain an Amazon storefront, so if you click on any of the links below you can order the books directly from Amazon. We get a very small referral fee that will contribute towards the hosting of this site.
Ben Ramalingam, Harry Jones, et. al. (2008). Exploring the science of complexity: Ideas and implications for development and humanitarian efforts. Overseas Development Institute. Working Paper 258.
This is an often cited work that takes a comprehensive look at the science of complexity and how it can apply to development and humanitarian efforts. The paper unpacks complexity sciences into 10 key concepts and discusses the application of each of the concepts to international development. The paper can be downloaded from the ODI website.
Harry Jones (2011). Taking responsibility for complexity: How implementation can achieve results in the face of complex problems. Overseas Development Institute. Working Paper 330.
In this paper, Harry Jones takes a look at what kind of problems are actually complex and how practitioners can decide if they are. He then introduced concepts and ideas from complexity sciences to tackle the complex problems. Jones cautions in his paper that the ways in which policy draws on available knowledge becomes one of the central determinants of its success. The paper can be downloaded from the ODI website.
Richard Hummelbrunner and Harry Jones (2013). A guide for planning and strategy development in the face of complexity. ODI Background Note. Overseas Development Institute.
In the relatively short (12 pages) and easy to read paper, Hummelbrunner and Jones introduce complexity, name the biggest challenges in the face of complexity, propose three core principles to face them, and even showcase a number of tools that can be applied in these situations. The paper can be downloaded from the ODI website.
Alicia Juarrero (2010). Complex Dynamical Systems Theory. Cognitive Edge.
In this paper, Juarrero gives an introduction to complex dynamical systems theory. She touches upon some important concepts relevant in the connection with complex systems, such as for example boundaries, power laws, causality, attractor, and attractor landscapes. This paper is more abstract and not as easy to read as the other papers presented above, but people that are already acquainted with complex systems theory might find some interesting additions to their knowledge and understanding.
We have two lists of books on our Amazon storefront:
Let us know if you think we should add anything to this list.
Robert Axelrod and Michael D. Cohen (2001). Harnessing Complexity: Organizational Implications of a Scientific Frontier. Basic Books.
Eric D. Beinhocker (2007). The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics. Harvard Business Review Press, USA.
Beinhocker’s book is a most remarkable exploration of the application of the theories of complexity and evolution to economics. Beinhocker breaks with the traditional theories of economics that are based on states equilibrium and introduces a dynamic, evolutionary, adaptable, and much more realistic picture of economics.
Samuel Bowels (2004). Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions, and Evolution. Princeton University Press, USA.
Donella H. Meadows (2008). Thinking in Systems: A Primer. Edited by Diana Wright. Chelsea Green Publishing, USA.
This is a classical piece of systems thinking and systems dynamics. Although nowadays systems dynamics is often criticized as being a fundamentally mechanistic way of looking at systems and, hence, not up to the task of describing complex systems, Meadows introduces a fundamental understanding of systems and how systems work that is of immense use and definitely applicable also for people working predominantly in complex systems.
Melanie Mitchell (2011). Complexity: A Guided Tour. Oxford University Press, USA.
This book gives a comprehensive introduction to complexity. Mitchell takes the reader on journey from the natural phenomenon of complex systems, such as ant hives, via the exploration of the phenomena of chaos and complexity by scientists to modern applications in computing, genetics, and social network analysis. A must-read for complexity enthusiasts.
Bob Williams and Richard Hummelbrunner (2010). Systems Concepts in Action: A Practitioner’s Toolkit. Stanford University Press. Stanford, USA.
These and more books can be found in our Amazon Store. Any income from the store will be used to finance this blog and website.
Here are a couple of videos we like, that helped us gain understanding of complexity and gain systemic insight, and that we think can add value to your work.
Eric Berlow talks about the simplicity in complexity
Dave Snowden on how to organize a children’s party, a brief introduction to the difference between complicated, complex, and chaotic
Dave Snowden presenting the Cynefin framework
Dave Snowden about risk and resilience
More videos with Dave Snowden: http://www.youtube.com/user/CognitiveEdge
Cognitive Edge, Dave Snowden’s company: http://cognitive-edge.com/
Tim Harford’s TED talk on Trial and Error
Keynote for the International Conference on Systems Thinking and Management (ICSTM), 2004
Russel Ackoff on Systems Thinking
Scott Page’s TED talk (TEDxUofM, 2011) on crowd sourcing
In this longer lecture, Scott Page talks about leveraging diversity.
More on Scott Page on his website: http://masi.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~spage/