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Applying the tools of complexity to the international realm: from fitness landscapes to complexity cascades

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date03/2011
JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
Journal number1
Volume24
Number of pages21
Pages5-26
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Increasingly, complexity-based thinking is challenging the dominant rationalist, realist and reductionist international relations (IR) framework. However, to move this challenge beyond the academic realm and into the day-to-day world of policy, complexity thinkers must begin to develop useful tools for policy practitioners. This paper attempts to address this issue by demonstrating the weaknesses and limits of one traditional IR tool (X–Y graphic visualizations) and the strengths of complexity tools (the fitness landscape and range of complexity outcomes). To demonstrate these arguments we examine how fitness landscapes can be used to reinterpret traditional perspectives on development and conflict and make difficult problems more approachable through three-dimensional visualizations.