There has been growing interest in the last 25 years in new (or revived) forms of steering, such as networks, public-private partnerships, multi-level governance, the kooperativer Staat, and their contribution to solving complex coordination problems in and across a wide range of specialized systems and the lifeworld. The distinctive feature of these heterarchic steering mechanisms is the reflexive self-organization of independent actors involved in complex relations of reciprocal interdependence. Such actors are expected to engage in continuing dialogue and resource-sharing in order to develop mutually beneficial joint projects and to manage the inevitable contradictions and dilemmas associated therewith. Thus heterarchy can be distinguished from the 'invisible hand' of uncoordinated market exchange based on the formally rational pursuitof self-interest by isolated market agents; and from the 'iron fist' (perhaps in a 'velvet glove') of imperative coordination in pursuit of substantive goals established from above by business managers, state officials, etc.. Together, these three forms of coordination â�� markets, hierarchies, and heterarchies â�� provide the main poles around which economic, political, and social governance are organized in complex societies.