Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Posts Tagged ‘complexity’

Strategy as Emergence: Reviewing the Practice Turn in Social, Organizational and Leadership Studies from an Integral Perspective

Elke Fein

Abstract: Practice perspectives are increasingly popular in many social sciences. Moreover, the practice turn (PT) has gained influence across various disciplines as a novel epistemological and research perspective. It claims to be able to better explain the workings of social action, among them leadership phenomena in organizations, due to a detailed look onto the micro level. Due to their focus and epistemology, they also claim to be able to better describe and analyze the complexity of social action than more traditional individualistic or institutional approaches. This paper therefore takes a closer look at some of the epistemological claims made by practice perspectives, based on integral epistemological concepts and tools. It proposes a selective discussion of the PT’s genuine epistemological value, as well as potential shortcomings, blind spots and limitations.

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The Complexity of the Practice of Ecosystem-Based Management

Verna G. DeLauer, Andrew A. Rosenberg, Nancy C. Popp, David R. Hiley, Christine Feurt

Abstract: In the United States, there are more than 20 federal agencies that manage over 140 ocean statutes (Crowder et al., 2006). A history of disjointed, single sector management has resulted in a one-dimensional view of ecosystems, administrative systems, and the socio-economic drivers that affect them. In contrast, an ecosystem-based approach to management is inherently multi-dimensional. Ecosystem-based approaches to management (EBM) are at the forefront of progressive science and policy discussions. Both the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP, 2004) and the Pew Oceans Commission (POC, 2003) reports called for a better understanding of the impact of human activities on the coastal ocean and the result was President Obama’s National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes (2010).

EBM is holistic by seeking to include all stakeholders affected by marine policy in decision-making. Stakeholders may include individuals from all levels of government, academia, environmental organizations, and marine-dependent businesses and industry. EBM processes require decision-makers to approach marine management differently and more comprehensively to sufficiently require a more sophisticated conceptual understanding of the process and the people involved. There are implicit cognitive, interpersonal, and intra-personal demands of EBM that are not addressed by current literature. This research seeks to understand the mental demands of EBM. A constructive developmental framework is used to illuminate how decision-makers reason or make sense of the ideals and values underlying EBM, the mutual relationships that must be built among natural resource management agencies, and the personal experiences and emotions that accompany change.

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The Transdisciplinary Moment(um)

Julie Thompson Klein

Abstract: There is no universal theory, methodology, or definition of transdisciplinarity (TD). Nevertheless, keywords reveal similarities and differences across explanations. This overview tracks five major clusters of meaning: (a) meta-level conceptions of interdisciplinarity, (b) the changing nature and status of unity in the discourse of TD, (c) new alignments with participatory and collaborative problem-oriented research, (d) the forms of knowledge that TD engages, and (e) a transgressive imperative that interrogates the existing structure of knowledge, culture, and education. These categories of meaning are not air-tight. However, with widening use of the core word “transdisciplinarity,” it is important to be alert to these patterns and their underlying values and priorities.

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“Holistic Democracy” and Citizen Motivation to Use a More Holistic Approach to Public Decision Making

Jan Inglis

Abstract: The broad focus of this paper and the study about which it reports centre on the implications of applying holistic approaches to democracy, or more specifically to public decision making practices. This paper advocates that more complex and holistic methods be used to respond to the complexities of global issues. It describes how these processes take more time, commitment, and structure to use and it raises a question regarding citizen motivation to use such processes. It addresses this question in three ways: It presents a term 3D Democracy that highlights this complexity; it discusses why public processes need to address the task of decision making, and it reports on a small case study. Results of that study indicate that using critical reflection and deliberation on the adequacy of current methods of public involvement in decision making can stimulate citizens to be interested in and motivated to use such a holistic method. The paper ends with reflections and further questions.

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Integral Intelligence: A 21st Century Necessity

Anne Adams

Abstract: This article explores the critical role education plays in the attitudes, behaviors, results produced, and ultimately our every day experiences of our world. Integral education is introduced as a catalyst for transformation, moving our emphasis in education from gathering knowledge to growing consciousness. Expanding awareness provides a paradigm shift from epistemology to ontology, which would fundamentally alter where our attention is focused, from having and doing to being—providing an opening to directly experience ourselves as the creators of our reality.

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Adult Development Theory and Political Analysis: An Integral Account of Social and Political Change in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia

Elke Fein

Abstract: I propose a reading of social, political and discursive change in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia which is inspired by an integral, above all developmental perspective. In view of explaining Russia’s current political trajectory, I make several arguments. First, I claim that Russian politics are still to a large extent determined by the effects of a threefold crisis of sense-making. Neither the collapse of the Soviet empire, nor the question of how to define democratic government nor the lack of a resilient national identity have so far been resolved and re-appropriated in a transformative manner. Second, I try to show how this affects various aspects and dimensions of Russian politics. Third, I engage in a brief overview of a number of adult development models, asking to what extent and how the characteristics of consciousness development, particular stage characteristics, and the general logics and dynamics of successful and unsuccessful development these models describe can be helpful to the analysis of Russian politics. Also, I discuss their compatibility and parallels with discourse theory and analysis as an increasingly popular methodology in Russian Studies. Of the developmental models reviewed, the theory of political development by Stephen Chilton and the self-protective action logic in Susanne Cook-Greuter’s model of self and identity development are particularly relevant for my purpose. On these grounds, it is argued that since Vladimir Putin’s taking office as Russian president and later prime-minister, politics and (official) political discourse have increasingly come to follow self-protective action logics as conceived by Susanne Cook-Greuter. This diagnosis, which could either be understood as a regression or as a realignment of internal and external dimensions of political development, can be explained as a reaction to Russia’s crisis of identity followed by a loss of internal stability and international influence connected to the dislocations mentioned above.

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The U.S. Imperial Jugger-not: Saturation Points and Cultural Globalization

Meg Spohn Bertoni

Abstract: Globalization is not merely inevitable western cultural conquest. The assumption that the juggernaut of western hegemonic domination will continue until the world is consumed is a common one, but not an accurate one. That accuracy is compromised by a number of related misconceptions about the nature of globalization. Some of these have to do with an attachment to dichotomy in a world too complex for dualism. Some of them are related to assumptions about the nature of trade, of trends, of inevitability, and of statistical prediction that turn out not to be accurate—and by extension misconceptions about the unidirectionality of cultural exchange. Most are related to misconceptions about the nature of culture—particularly in oversimplifying, and making strange assumptions about, nonwestern cultures. Cultures change over time, with generations and historical forces—today’s cultural changes make up tomorrow’s cohesive culture. Cultures die not when they change to reflect the new attitudes and lifestyles of the peoples who live in them, but when they stagnate and become static, preserved only in museums, artifacts and books, and not in the everyday lives of the people themselves. Finally, phenomena do reach a saturation point, from biological populations to the motion of catamarans to absorption of cultural values, and these can be observed using methods of nonlinear dynamics. This project considers common misconceptions about globalization and culture, and uses concepts from nonlinear dynamics to expose the nature of the movement and saturation points of cultural globalization.

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A Leadership Journey: Personal Reflections from the School of Hard Knocks

R. Scott Pochron

Abstract: The following paper chronicles the evolution of the author’s thinking on leadership through the course of his work experience. Leadership is viewed as a dynamical process involving both formal and informal roles. The process is initiated as an individual identifies opportunities and feels pulled to respond to emerging patterns and initiate action to enable positive change. The dynamics between formal and informal leadership structures and leadership as a state of mind are discussed.

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Integral Time and the Varieties of Post-Mortem Survival

Sean M. Kelly

Abstract: While the question of survival of bodily death is usually approached by focusing on the mind/body relation (and often with the idea of the soul as a special kind of substance), this paper explores the issue in the context of our understanding of time. The argument of the paper is woven around the central intuition of time as an “ever-living present.” The development of this intuition allows for a more integral or “complex-holistic” theory of time, the soul, and the question of survival. Following the introductory matter, the first section proposes a re-interpretation of Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal recurrence in terms of moments and lives as “eternally occurring.” The next section is a treatment of Julian Barbour’s neo-Machian model of instants of time as configurations in the n-dimensional phase-space he calls “Platonia.” While rejecting his claim to have done away with time, I do find his model suggestive of the idea of moments and lives as eternally occurring. The following section begins with Fechner’s visionary ideas of the nature of the soul and its survival of bodily death, with particular attention to the notion of holonic inclusion and the central analogy of the transition from perception to memory. I turn next to Whitehead’s equally holonic notions of prehension and the concrescence of actual occasions. From his epochal theory of time and certain ambiguities in his reflections on the “divine antinomies,” we are brought to the threshold of a potentially more integral or “complex-holistic” theory of time and survival, which is treated in the last section. This section draws from my earlier work on Hegel, Jung, and Edgar Morin, as well as from key insights of Jean Gebser, for an interpretation of Sri Aurobindo’s inspired but cryptic description of the “Supramental Time Vision.” This interpretation leads to an alternative understanding of reincarnation—and to the possibility of its reconciliation with the once-only view of life and its corresponding version of immortality—along with the idea of a holonic scale of selves leading from individual personality as we normally experience it, through a kind of angelic self (a reinterpreted “Jivatma”), and ultimately to the Godhead as the Absolute Self. Of greater moment than such a speculative ontology, however, is the integral or complex-holistic way of thinking and imagining that is called for by this kind of inquiry.

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How Then Do We Choose to Live? Facing the Climate Crisis and Seeking “the Meta Response”

Jan Inglis

Abstract: The author observes that a sense of hopelessness appears to be forming in our culture in response to recent descriptions of the impact of climate crisis. This reaction is compared to the way people respond to diagnoses of life threatening illness. Stages of reactions to difficult news are known to accompany such responses. The author shares her own sorting of responses as an example of stage transitions in the process of grappling with the difficult news of climate crisis. Transitions from one stage to the next are developmental. The importance of bringing resources from the field of adult development into the field of public deliberations to address the climate crisis is emphasized. A meta approach, “the Gaia approach,” is proposed, as are many questions for individual and public reflection.

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Integral Review and its Editors


Abstract: In this introduction to Integral Review’s inaugural issue, we explain the meaning we give to the title of this electronic journal which is open-access, both refereed and peer-reviewed, and why that meaning is important for us in today’s world. The draft of the basic article, which was intensely discussed among the members of the editorial committee, was written by Sara Ross and Reinhard Fuhr,* and following it, other members of the editorial committee added their personal emphases in reference to the integral paradigm as well as their (critical) evaluation of the premises made in the basic article. Thus Thomas Jordan offers a set of categories and criteria for integral qualities which turned out to be most important in practice and evaluation processes. Michel Bauwens makes distinctions about the multi-perspectival nature of the integral paradigm, points out ways to avoid four different kinds of reductionism, and highlights layers of awareness. Russ Volckman emphasizes the connection between the diversity of worldviews and methodologies, which allow us to also integrate recent developments in behavioral approaches in his professional field of organization and leadership development. Jonathan Reams emphasizes the new, transcendent quality of an integral approach that enables us to use different qualities of “reflection” flexibly and – as we have a meta-framework of human perceptions and values – to recognize everybody’s truth and feel compassionate with it. We then close with a discussion of the relationship between Integral Review and the mission of its non-profit publisher, ARINA, Inc.

Editor’s note: Sara Ross is president of ARINA, Inc. and coordinator of IR, Reinhard Fuhr is editor-in-chief of IR

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Complexity Intelligence and Cultural Coaching: Navigating the Gap Between Our Societal Challenges and Our Capacities

Jan Inglis and Margaret Steele

Abstract: In this article, we present the term complexity intelligence as a useful moniker to describe the reasoning ability, emotional capacity and social cognition necessary to meet the challenges of our prevailing life conditions. We suggest that, as a society and as individuals, we develop complexity intelligence as we navigate the gap between our current capacities and the capacities needed to respond to the next stage of complex challenges in our lives. We further suggest that it is possible to stimulate and support the emergence of complexity intelligence in a society, but we need a new form of social change agent – a cultural coach, to midwife its emergence.

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