Theoretical foundation of complexity theory. In recent years, the terms complex and complexity have been used in the context of public policy and management. They’re mainly utilized to describe complex situations with a lot of moving pieces that make understanding challenging. Exogenous and endogenous, nonlinear, continuing changes in the parts and the whole are the outcome of complex dynamics deriving from interactions between the parts.
The study of complexity and complex phenomena has not yet achieved the status of a discrete field, but it is a growing topic of scholarly interest in the natural sciences, social sciences, human behavior, and organizational studies over the last fifty years. Nonlinear complex systems theory, or simply complexity theory, refers to a collection of concepts that describe the phenomena associated with complexity.
Implementing new technological innovations in the workplace and globalization are just two indicators of future, higher skilled workforce requirements, and they herald an increase in workplace complexity due to an increasing rate of unpredictable change, information overload, globalization, and geopolitical unrest.
Through the implementation and dissemination of complexity science, organizations may manage this expanding complexity with the human resources they have available, whether trained or unskilled.
Complexity science is increasingly recognized as the “new science” in which organizations are viewed as complex systems that cannot be observed using traditional linear methodologies. It is becoming more prevalent across multiple disciplines as a means of making sense of and being able to manage such complexity.
Part of how ordered systems evolve from chaotic environments is explained by complexity theory. Corporations are seen as a complex mix of self-organizing components made up of workers, business units, resources, and stakeholders, rather than as complicated, static structures.
The ability of complexity theory to account for the creation of new structures within an organization (such as the consumer-to-consumer market on eBay) and the development of new business models (such as Google’s “free content” strategy) is of great importance to organizational study. Economic and organizational phenomena are analogous to those observed in science and nature, according to complexity theory.
Complexity theory and complexity science are attempts to encompass the breadth and diversity of programs that are characterized by ambiguity and uncertainty. The study of nonlinear dynamical interactions among multiple agents in open systems/programs that are far from equilibrium is called complexity science. ‘
Complexity concepts and principles are well adapted to the emergent, messy, nonlinear uncertainty of living systems nested one inside the other, where the interaction between things is more important than the objects themselves.
When it comes to evaluating educational programs, complexity theory allows us to account for the uncertainty and ambiguity. It actually encourages us to accept natural ambiguity as a regular component of our educational experiences. Ambiguity and uncertainty are neither good nor bad; rather, they are to be expected. Exploring for those uncertainties would be part of evaluating an educational program.
Indeed, complexity theory encourages educators to abandon too simplistic frameworks for explaining and comprehending complex educational experiences. ‘‘ To think in a sophisticated way, you must take a relational, system(s) perspective.
That is, consider any event or entity in terms of its relationships rather than its own characteristics. Examining the success of a program must encompass not only elements pertaining to program participants, but also relationships between individuals and the environment in which they act, as well as how that environment may affect the participants.
Our choice of program assessment models can be influenced by complexity theory. The concept of program elements’ relationships, for example, is prevalent in the CIPP evaluation model, in which context studies play a critical role in creating the approach to evaluating program effectiveness and in which program elements’ relationships are emphasized.
Separate but equally important are process studies. Because educators need to understand the relationships between program parts, they include a variety of stakeholder perspectives when constructing a program evaluation, as each one will represent crucial aspects of the program components’ relationships.
We believe that using the right evaluation models can help academic managers and educators develop useful program assessments that take into account the true complexity of a program. Complexity theory offers a unique and beneficial perspective for selecting an evaluation model that best meets the demands of the program, helping educators to avoid taking a too narrow or simplistic approach to their job.
Basic tenets of complexity theory
Complexity theory recognizes that economic and organizational phenomena are similar to those observed in science and in nature. The best way to understand the similarity is to look at the key components of complex systems:
Increasing returns: The concept of “growing returns” can be found in economic theory, evolutionary theory, and contemporary complexity dynamics research. With the introduction of network technology, the focus has shifted to methods that increase returns on both the demand and supply sides of the economy.
Selection theory in evolution reflects rising returns, in which stronger species become stronger as a result of their capacity to claim resources and reproduce. Increasing returns are a type of positive feedback in complexity theory, which is represented in our linguistic idioms. “The affluent get richer” and “success breeds success” are examples of our intuitive grasp of positive behavior and performance spirals.
Self-organizing systems: A flock of birds is an example of a self-organizing system. The formation is constructed by each bird’s subconscious regulations, such as keeping a set distance from its neighbor.
The outcome is a configuration that appears to have its own life and may move in unison without the need for a leader or external control. The approach is bottom-up, beginning with a few simple rules for individuals and building up to a complicated system that flows.
In the same way, the dynamics of program evaluation work. Decisions about program elements are made in a self-organizing fashion. The phenomenon is known as “emergent” self-organization. It discusses how stock market traders assess the value of a flotation and the future worth of individual shares. Thousands of transactions on the market place show the emerging tendency.
Continuous adaptation: Investors collect, analyze, and react to information in the stock market, which requires constant adaptation. This is a spiraling feedback loop in which behavior is adjusted in response to the state of other components in the environment.
The environment will be altered as a result of the conduct, and vice versa. The global economy, growing cities, online social networks, and the internet as a continually evolving network of information and services are all instances of complex adaptive behavior.
When starting out in a competitive and combative atmosphere, collaboration occurs between the parties for the mutual benefit of all. The mobile telecoms sector is one example of this form of growing cooperation. Companies form coalitions to establish new technology standards and improve network compatibility.
Sensitivity to initial conditions: The weather, for example, is an example of a chaotic system. This is symbolized by the “butterfly effect.” The notion of complexity explains how two programs that start out in similar but not identical contexts can end up with very different outcomes.
This is due to nonlinear dynamics and adaptive effects within the software. The program’s units collaborate and adapt to one another, resulting in a variety of well-organized scenarios. As a result, long-term forecasting is impossible.
Nonlinearity: When the total effect of interacting agents is greater than the sum of the parts, nonlinearity occurs. The whole has characteristics and features that go beyond the capabilities of its individual parts. Because certain inputs have a disproportionately big effect on others, the behavior is nonlinear.
The combined actions of investors, which create bull and bear markets, reflect a similar sort of nonlinearity in stock markets.
In the nut shell,
Complexity operates at a holistic, systems’ level where, notwithstanding many interacting parts, there is an interactive and interdependent dynamism between the parts such that the whole cannot be understood as the sum of its parts, nor reduced to its parts to assist understanding. Many complex systems are systems within larger complex systems, within still larger complex systems, and so on.
Taken together, these nested systems constitute a system whole. Self-similarity’ means that characteristics identified at one level of the system will also be present in the whole. With the foregone, the system/programme in a holistic term becomes complex and as such difficult to evaluate. Complexity theory therefore provides an approach where these complex systems can be evaluated.
Educational programs are inherently about change; changing learners’ knowledge, skills, or attitudes, changing educational structures, Developing educational leaders, and so forth. The educators who design and implement those programs know better than most just how complex the programs are, and such complexity poses a considerable challenge to effective program evaluation.