chapter  7
18 Pages

The Complexity of Self-Organization: Boundary Judgments in Traffi c Management


The previous chapter showed that self-organization is a basic mechanism that explains that non-linear developments are the normal state of public management systems. It is striking how governing agents attempt to bring order, but often contribute to disorder experienced by others. Complex patterns of interference between conservative and dissipative self-organization tend to emerge. Multiple self-organization leads to complexity not only out of sheer numbers: its observations and interpretations matter greatly. Self-organization can be experienced or perceived as steering. Second order cybernetics emphasizes that this depends on the vantage point assumed. “But even in the general case when the systems dynamics allows self-organization in the sense of entropy decrease, the crucial factor is the observer, who has to describe the process at an appropriate level(s) and aspects, and to defi ne the purpose of the system” (Gershenson and Heylighen, 2003: 612).