Scientific publications on the governance of complex systems

More specifically, these publications relate to governance, leadership, management and innovation of societal systems with a view to sustainable development. 

Nooteboom SG & Teisman GR. Leadership and Complexity: Can Individuals Make Differences in Complex Systems? In : Galaz (ed.) 2019. Global Challenges, Governance and Complexity. Edward Elgar.
The chapter asks how Societal Complex Adaptive Systems (SCAS) manage to adapt to changing circumstances like depletion of natural resources. Suppose we have some way of knowing that electric cars are such an adaptation, and that they are breaking through. Complexity Leadership Theory suggests that it is impossible to identify a single leader. Complexity leadership largely takes place behind the scenes and it is difficult to tell if initiatives by supposed leaders contribute to large-scale, long-term (i.e. a complex) benefit. Action researchers have uncovered three types of co-evolving and symbiotic networks: administrative leader networks (focused on power), adaptive leader networks (focused on knowledge) and enabling leader networks (focused on connecting knowledge to power). In complex cases they need to connect the public, private and civil sector. Adaptations emerge in these networks and are usually communicated to others at public events when safe enough.
Nooteboom Teisman chapter in Galaz (ed)
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.3 MB
Termeer, C.J.A.M. & Nooteboom, S.G. (2014). Innovative leadership through networks.
Complexity leadership theory is operationalised by linking three types of leadership dynamics to three types of networks. Networks and dynamics are observed in two case studies. In C Ansell & J Torfing (Eds.), Public Innovation through collaboration and design (Routledge Critical Studies in Public Management) (pp. 1-25). Routledge.
Innovative leadership through networks.p
Adobe Acrobat Document 485.7 KB
Nooteboom, S.G. & Termeer, C.J.A.M. (2013). Strategies of complexity leadership in governance systems. International Review of Public Administration, 18 (1), 25-40.
In complex governance systems, innovations may emerge, not controlled by a single leader, but enabled by many. We discuss how these leaders are embedded in networks and which strategies they use. The theoretical framework is based on Complexity Leadership Theory. We conducted participatory observation in two Dutch case studies: a regional agricultural development in the Venlo region and an urban redevelopment in the city of Amersfoort. These studies reveal leadership strategies creating conditions that are favorable for the emergence of complex innovations.
Strategies of complexity leadership.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 47.5 KB
CJAM Termeer & SG Nooteboom (2012). Complexity leadership for sustainable regional innovations.
CJAM Termeer & SG Nooteboom (2012). Complexity leadership for sustainable regional innovations. In: M. Satarauta, I. Horlings and J. Little (eds). Leadership and Change in Sustainable Regional Development. Routledge Regions and Cities series. In order to realize sustainable regional development, innovations are needed that exceed the jurisdictions of organizations and command and control bureaucracies. These innovations enhance specific leadership challenges, because they are not controlled by anyone, but need to be enabled by many. This paper discusses how Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT), particularly the concepts of administrative, enabling and adaptive leadership, can improve our understanding of the role of leadership in generating sustainable innovations in regional systems. We demonstrate the utility of these concepts by analyzing how people are achieving sustainable innovations in Greenport Venlo, a region in the Netherlands.
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Nooteboom, S.G. & Marks, P.K. (2010). Adaptive networks as second order governance systems. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 27 (1), 61-69
We connect the idea of ‘levers for change’ with ‘governance capacity’ and propose ‘adaptive networks’ as an ideal type embedded in, and leveraging change in, governance systems. Discourses connect practices of citizens and companies with that governance system. Aware of interdependencies, individuals may act in the interest of the whole system and self-organize into adaptive networks, and influence discourses to a common end. Their effectiveness depends on second-orderedness: adaptive networks in niches outside the governance system may influence it through levers. The motivation and competence to build creative tension helps adaptive networks emerge and coevolve with power networks, improving governance capacity.
Adaptive networks as second order govern
Adobe Acrobat Document 106.1 KB
Nooteboom, S.G. (2006, November 30). Adaptive Networks; the governance for sustainable development. EUR (246 pag.) (Delft: Eburon). Prom./coprom.: G.R. Teisman.
PhD Thesis about the transition management discourse in The Netherlands 200 - 2005, and its influence on sustainable mobility and energy systems. Or: the story about informal boundary spanning leadership networks, called adaptive networks that succeeded to move the world a little by influencing power networks.
Adaptive Networks PhD Thesis.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.7 MB

Without abstract

  1. Dijkstra, A.G., Bitondo, D., Nooteboom, S.G., Post, R. & van Boven, G. (2017). Supporting governance of economic development: the PAANEEAC experience in Central Africa. Journal of Developing Societies.
  2. Van Buuren, A, SG Nooteboom & GR Teisman. Climate adaptation in 
  3. Klostermann, J.E.M., Gupta, J., Termeer, C., Meijerink, S., Brink, M van den, Nooteboom, S.G., Jong, P, Bergsma, E. & Biesbroek, R. (2009). How to assess the adaptive capacity of legislation and policies. Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change 'Earth System Governance. People. Places and the Planet': Amsterdam (2009, December 3 - 2009, December 4)
  4. Nooteboom, S.G. & Eshuis, J. (2009). Transitions through reflexive interventions in governance networks. RMNO Conference Towards Knowledge Democracy: Leiden, The Netherlands (2009, August 25 - 2009, August 27).
  5. Nooteboom, S.G. (2007). Infrastructure development between process, procedure and content. Conference Partners for Roads on Roads and spatial development: Prague (2007, September 3).