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Emergence: Complexity & Organization (E:CO) is an international and interdisciplinary conversation about human organizations as complex systems and the implications of complexity science for those organizations. With a unique format blending the integrity of academic inquiry and the impact of business practice, E:CO integrates multiple perspectives in management theory, research, practice and education. E:CO is a a quarterly journal published in print and online by ISCE Publishing in association with The Complexity Society, Cognitive Edge, ISCE Research, and Lightning Source in accordance with academic publishing standards and processes.


E:CO’s niche is the opportunity to bridge three gaps:

  • The distance beween academic theory and professional practice;
  • The space beween the mathematics and the metaphors of complexity thinking; and,
  • The disparity between formal idealizations and actual human organizations.

Organizations of all kinds struggle to understand, adapt, respond and manipulate changing conditions in their internal and external environments. Approaches based on the causal, linear logic of mechanistic sciences and engineering continue to play an important role, given people’s ability to create order. But such approaches are valid only within carefully circumscribed boundaries. They become counterproductive when the same organizations display the highly reflexive, context-dependent, dynamic nature of systems in which agents learn and adapt and new patterns emerge. The rapidly expanding discussion about complex systems offers important contributions to the integration of diverse perspectives and ultimately new insights into organizational effectiveness. There is increasing interest in complexity in mainstream business education, as well as in specialist business disciplines such as knowledge management. Real world systems can’t be completely designed, controlled, understood or predicted, even by the so-called sciences of complexity, but they can be more effective when understood as complex systems. While many scientific disciplines explore complexity through mathematical models and simulations, E:CO explores the emerging understanding of human systems that is informed by this research. Engineered and emergent views of human systems can coexist, creating a useful tension that drives organizational evolution. However, neither academics nor practitioners can leverage complexity alone. Academic discussions about complexity are often biased towards quantitative research and mathematical models that are inappropriately prescriptive for systems comprised of actors endowed with free will, who are simultaneously part of and aware of the system. The metaphors of complexity have a usefulness of their own as well, but too often they are applied without adequate reference to the mechanisms, models and mathematics behind them.


Readers of E:CO are managers, academics, consultants and others interested in developing and applying the insights of complex systems theories and models to analysis and management of private-, public- and social-sector organizations and applying insights derived from organizational experience to understanding complex systems theories.

E:CO encourages multidisciplinary contributions from all sectors of social and natural sciences and all sectors of organizational practice. The journal’s unique format presents both reviewed and non-reviewed content from three overlapping sources. Peer-reviewed articles are at the heart of our content, but with an emphasis on communicating across boundaries. Academic articles pass double-blind reviews by two academics and one practitioner. When subject matter is theoretical or reporting research findings, authors will be encouraged to discuss practical implications of the ideas. Similarly, practitioner articles also will be double-blind reviewed by two practitioners and one academic. When appropriate, authors will be encouraged to connect to theory or research that has either already been done or needs to be done.

Additional non-reviewed content includes feature articles, essays, profiles, conversations and conference summaries, as well as news, commentary, book reviews, etc. Each article is clearly marked according to which path it took to publication. E:CO incorporates Emergence, originally published by the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence.