Books and Articles

Making Peace Last

Robert Ricigliano

making peace last The international community invests billions annually in thousands of discrete projects designed to overcome poverty, stop violence, spread human rights, fight terrorism, and combat global warming. The hope is that these separate projects will add up to lasting societal change in places like Afghanistan. In reality, these initiatives are not adding up to sustainable peace. Making Peace Last applies systems thinking to help improve the productivity of peacebuilding, broadly defined. This book defines the theory, analysis, and practice needed to create peacebuilding approaches that are as dynamic and adaptive as the societies they are trying to affect. The book is based on a combination of field experience and research into systems thinking, peace and conflict, and conflict resolution. The primary audience is policy makers and practitioners from the many fields that make up peacebuilding. This book can also be used as a textbook in courses on peacebuilding, security, and development. Making Peace Last is a comprehensive approach to finding sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing social problems.

The Non-Linearity of Peace Processes – Theory and Practice of Systemic Conflict Transformation

D. Körppen, N. Ropers & Hans J. Gießmann (eds.)
Opladen/Farmington Hills: Barbara Budrich Verlag, 2011

the non-linearityThis is the first comprehensive publication analysing the value added by integrating systemic thinking into peacebuilding theory and practice. The aim of this book is to link the most recent debates in the peacebuilding field, e.g. on liberal peace, on the non-linearity of conflict dynamics and on bridging the attribution gap, with various systemic discourses, discussing the extent to which systemic thinking and methods are helpful to further develop existing approaches to conflict transformation.

Against the background of several case studies, practitioners and academics elaborate on their various understandings of systemic thinking and present a great variety of systemic concepts, such as systems theory, systemic action research and constellation work.

The Five Percent

Peter T. Coleman

five percent2One in every twenty difficult conflicts ends up not in a calm reconciliation or tolerable standoff but as an acute and lasting antagonism. Such conflicts—the five percent—can be found among the diplomatic and political clashes we read about every day in the newspaper but also, and in a no less damaging and dangerous form, in our private and personal lives, within families, in workplaces, and among neighbors. These self-perpetuating conflicts resist mediation, defy conventional wisdom, and drag on and on, worsening over time. Once we get pulled in, it is nearly impossible to escape. The five percent rule us.

So what can we do when we find ourselves ensnared? Informed by lessons drawn from practical experience, advances in complexity theory, and the psychological and social currents that drive conflicts both international and domestic, Dr. Peter Coleman offers innovative new strategies for dealing with disputes of all types, ranging from abortion debates to the enmity between Israelis and Palestinians. A timely, paradigm-shifting look at conflict, The Five Percent is an invaluable guide to preventing even the most fractious negotiations from foundering.

Systemic Action Research: A Strategy for Whole System Change

Danny Burns

systemic-action-research“Systemic Action Research” works with real social and organisational issues to uncover their complex dynamics, often revealing unexpected opportunities. This book shows how this process can be integrated, in any context, to the process of social and organisational development and change. The book explains how systemic thinking works and how Systemic Action Research can be embedded into organisational structures and processes to catalyse sustainable change and critical local interventions. Practically written, it details how to design a programme and build it directly into policy and practice development, extending the possibilities of action research beyond the ‘individual’ and the ‘group’ to work across whole organisations, multi agency governance arenas, and networks.The book is filled with illustrative stories and pictures which bring the concepts to life enabling the reader to develop a clear picture of how to put it into practice. Systemic Action Research programmes are now being adopted in Government and local governance contexts as well as in national and international NGOs. This book will be invaluable for experienced action researchers as well as social science and social policy researchers who will benefit from an approach to qualitative research which is participative, grounded in practice and allows systemic understandings of complex problems. Policy makers and practitioners will appreciate a process which generates meaningful evidence about the dynamics of change and offers a tangible system for continuously integrating that learning into both formal and informal decision-making.

Attracted to Conflict: The Dynamic Foundations of Malignant Social Relations

Robin Vallacher, Andrzej Nowak, Peter T. Coleman, Lan Bui-Wrzosinska, Larry Liebowitch, Katharina Kugler, Andrea Bartoli

Attracted to Conflict coverConflict is inherent in virtually every aspect of human relations, from sport to parliamentary democracy, from fashion in the arts to paradigmatic challenges in the sciences, and from economic activity to intimate relationships. Yet, it can become among the most serious social problems humans face when it loses its constructive features and becomes protracted over time with no obvious means of resolution.

This book addresses the subject of intractable social conflict from a new vantage point. Here, these types of conflict represent self-organizing phenomena, emerging quite naturally from the ongoing dynamics in human interaction at any scale—from the interpersonal to the international. Using the universal language and computational framework of nonlinear dynamical systems theory in combination with recent insights from social psychology, intractable conflict is understood as a system locked in special attractor states that constrain the thoughts and actions of the parties to the conflict. The emergence and maintenance of attractors for conflict can be described by means of formal models that incorporate the results of computer simulations, experiments, field research, and archival analyses. Multi-disciplinary research reflecting these approaches provides encouraging support for the dynamical systems perspective. (Note:  Downloadable version of book now available through above link.)

Adaptive Action: Leveraging Uncertainty in Your Organization

Glenda Eoyang and Royce Holladay

adaptive-action-bookAdaptive Action provides an answer to the urgent challenge of people and organizations who need a way to observe the chaotic world around them, and take courageous action to respond to changes and challenges they face. People feel stuck with problems that are too big to comprehend and too complex to understand, and this book offers simple tools, practical examples, and real-world stories. Based on the theories and models of chaos and complexity and tested by practice in multiple professions and cultures, the work of Human Systems Dynamics offers practical guidance for thriving in the midst of uncertainty.

This book includes models and methods grounded in Human Systems Dynamics. They are simple to learn and use, adaptable across multiple contexts and challenges, and scalable to work for individuals, groups, organizations, and communities. Graphic models, clear protocols, and understandable definitions embedded in practical stories prepare readers to engage in Adaptive Action in their own complex and bewildering situations.

Other Resources

Click Here to download a Summary of Key Complexity Science Findings Relevant to the Social Sciences (pdf).

Additional resources relevant to work in complexity science, conflict and peace are available on Dynamical Systems Application Resources hosted by Beyond Intractability.