Strategy in complexity: the shaping of communities and environments

Kristof van Assche, R. Beunen, M. Duineveld

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In this chapter, we reflect on the possibilities of purposeful community development in a non-linear understanding of society. Although the complexity and uncertainty that characterize the world put forward challenges for planning and steering, it doesn’t imply that purposive interventions are unlikely to be successful or that planning has become obsolete. It does, however, require a different understanding of how societies organize themselves and about how collective strategies sort reality-effects. Planning, as spatial planning, is a subset of strategy and provides a set of tools for others. In this chapter we highlight the importance of strategy in a world where many of the traditional planning rules and certainties have been challenged. We deepen the discussion about community development by placing it in the context of governance understood as a set of co-evolving actors, institutions, and power/knowledge configurations. Within these ever changing governance systems, forms of organization are necessarily linked to and co-evolve with narratives on identity, community, and governance itself, as the taking of collectively binding decisions. Taking into account the complexity and non-linearity that characterizes these co-evolutionary processes we discuss the links between community formation and the organization and transformation of space through planning. We explore how strategy should be understood in this context and we identify which forms of strategy can work under the structural conditions revealed through the lens of complexity theory and governance theory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Planning and Complexity
EditorsGert de Roo, Claudia Yamu, Christian Zuidema
PublisherEdward Elgar
ISBN (Electronic)9781786439185
ISBN (Print)9781786439178
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2020

Publication series

NameResearch Handbooks in Planning series


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