Control & intervention in complex adaptive systems: From biology to biogen

Abstract
Markets, companies and various forms of business organizations may all (we have argued) be usefully viewed through the lens of CAS -- the theory of complex adaptive systems. In this chapter, I address one fundamental issue that confronts both the theoretician and the business manager: the nature and opportunities for control and intervention in complex adaptive regimes. The problem is obvious enough. A complex adaptive system, as we have defined it, is soft assembled and largely self-organizing. This means that it is the emergent product of multiple, and often very heterogeneous, interacting factors and forces, and that the crucial interactions are not controlled and orchestrated by an overseeing executive, detailed program, or any other source of strict hierarchical control. There is thus a pressing problem -- are such systems strictly out of control and beyond the reach of useful governance? I shall argue that they are not. Such systems, though initially unfamiliar, can nonetheless be led, influenced and enabled in a variety of ways.
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Andreas Wagner (1999). Causality in Complex Systems. Biology and Philosophy 14 (1):83-101.
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