Article

Complexity Theory in Political Science and Public Policy

Citation

Cairney P (2012) Complexity Theory in Political Science and Public Policy. Political Studies Review, 10 (3), pp. 346-358. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1478-9302.2012.00270.x

Abstract
Advocates of complexity theory describe it as a new scientific paradigm. Complexity theory identifies instability and disorder in politics and policy making, and links them to the behaviour of complex systems. It suggests that we shift our analysis from individual parts of a political system to the system as a whole; as a network of elements that interact and combine to produce systemic behaviour. This article explores the use of complexity theory in public policy, highlighting a small literature using the language of complexity directly to describe complex policy-making systems, and a larger literature identifying complexity themes. It then highlights the main problems to be overcome before complexity theory can become truly valuable in politics and policy making.

Keywords
public policy; devolution; complexity theory; political science

Journal
Political Studies Review: Volume 10, Issue 3

StatusPublished
Publication date30/09/2012
Date accepted by journal30/04/2012
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/15959
PublisherWiley-Blackwell for Political Studies Association
ISSN1478-9299