Call for Papers: Special Issue

Call for Papers

Special Issue on Democratic Governance and Complex Systems


Journal: Complexity, Governance and Networks

Guest Editor:  Prof. Dr. Jack W Meek (University of La Verne)

Deadline for Paper Submissions: February 1, 2020

You are invited to submit paper on the theoretical and empirical questions pertaining to complexity and democratic systems for a special issue of the journal Complexity, Governance and NetworksComplexity, Governance & Networks is an open-access peer-reviewed journal that is published by the University of Bamberg Press, German, and indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals. Authors are not charged for publishing papers in the journal. The journal is affiliated with the Section for Complexity and Networks Studies of the American Society for Public Administration.

Please email any questions and paper proposals to the special issue editor Jack W. Meek at

Papers on the following topics and approaches are particularly welcome for this special issue, but papers on other related topics will also be considered:

  • Theoretical perspectives on how democratic systems and governance networks are adapting or undermined by complex conditions.
  • Theoretical perspectives on how complexity theory informs our understanding of how democratic systems are adapting, emerging or transforming in response to contemporary challenges.
  • Theoretical and empirical research on the problems of democracy from a complexity and / or governance networks perspective.
  • Applied research on how complexity theory and approaches are informing democratic processes, public decision and public choice in urban, metropolitan and regional settings


Information about the Special Issue:  Complex Systems and Democracy

Due to the global trends in movement of people, technology, goods and services, traditional jurisdictional systems are under stress in adapting to new challenges and demands.  The rise of economic inequality and the spread of communication through social media have raised concerns about the stability of democratic institutions. Emergent social-political movements threaten one-revered democratic institutions. Liberal democracies are under threat. (Mounk, 2018). Climate, economic or politically induced immigration place demands on communities stretching resources and embolden political demands on democratic systems.  The destabilization of democratic institutions is evident (Goldberg, 2018).

National, regional and local public and community service operate within a demanding array of disruptive forces that originate from well beyond jurisdictional boundaries yet call upon local, state and national institutions to respond. In response, we witness the initiation and creation of new kinds of public service designs and partnerships (Ansell & Trondal, 2017; Meek, 2018).

This special issue calls upon researchers in complexity theory and governance networks to make contributions to understanding how democratic governments (national, regional, state and local) are responding to globalization disruptions (climate, immigration, economic, technology, social media). This issue is interested in examining the stability of democratic institutions from a complexity and governance networks perspectives.

How should democracy and its institutions be (re-)conceptualized from the perspectives of complex systems and/or governance networks perspectives?

How can complex systems and/or governance networks perspectives be applied to social problems and the stability of democratic systems?

How can complex systems and/or governance networks perspectives and methods inform alternative practices of action that improve democratic traditions?

Are patterns of institutional adaptation, learning or self-organization identifiable in democratic institutions as they engage in addressing current complexities that arise from public service demands?

The significance of the special issue is on how complexity-informed perspectives can inform our understanding of democratic processes and how democratic processes may be responsive under stress. An underlying theme of the special issue will be how stable democratic systems and governance networks are under conditions of complexity and what kinds of strategies are needed to reinforce democratic systems.



Ansell, C., & Trondal J. (2017). Governing turbulence: An organizational-institutional agenda. Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, …, 1-15.  doi: 10.1093/ppmgov/gvx013.

Goldberg, J. (2018, October). The American crisis. The Atlantic

Meek, J. W. (2018). Making a difference: Good governance in disrupted states.” Journal of Public Administration Education, 24(2), 135151.

Mounk, Y. (2018). People Vs. democracy: Why our freedom is in danger and how to save it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.