Managing Uncertainties in Networks: A Network Approach to Problem Solving and Decision Making

Managing Uncertainties in Networks: A Network Approach to Problem Solving and Decision Making

Managing Uncertainties in Networks: A Network Approach to Problem Solving and Decision Making

Managing Uncertainties in Networks: A Network Approach to Problem Solving and Decision Making

Synopsis

Government, business and civil society in our postmodern network society are frequently faced with controversies over technological and environmental issues. This book provides a conceptual framework to understand the nature of these controversies.

Excerpt

In contemporary network society public and private organizations are challenged by increasingly complex tasks and problems. They are expected to take the lead in solving societal problems (public organizations) or to conduct their business in a socially responsible manner (private organizations) and have to do this in a context that has become substantially more complex in the past several decades. To achieve their objectives and to fulfil their tasks, they are dependent upon a range of other organizations. Firms function as part of larger and sometimes international chains and networks, where they must balance between cooperation and competition when determining their position vis-à-vis other companies. Governments are part of a complex network of organizations and organizational units, within which they must seek to fulfil their tasks. Companies must confer with governments that attempt to regulate their behaviour and have little respect for the pursuit of profit and continuity. In their attempts to regulate society, public parties notice that they are dependent upon companies who have considerable resources at their disposal, follow their own goals and are not just subject to regulation, but try to influence society themselves.

Public and private actors find that dealing with the issues confronting them requires expert knowledge, while at the same time a wide range of stakeholders will wish to participate in the problem solving process. Citizens and clients have become self-aware, make demands and will not take no for an answer. And, always, there is the risk of issues catching the eye of the mass media that enlarges every mistake and publicly calls public or private actors to account for their actions. Nowadays, governments are even being blamed in the media for the rising number of deaths due to high summer temperatures.

The environment is becoming more and more important to organizations. At the same time this ever-present, unavoidable and obstructive environment means that public and private organizations, trying to deal with problems, are increasingly confronted with uncertainty. They are part of wider networks, in which they are dependent upon other actors, whom they cannot control and whose behaviour they don't fully understand and can't predict.

This book is about the implications of uncertainty in our network society for complex problem solving. More specifically: it identifies the kinds of uncertainties governments, private firms and representatives of civil society encounter in

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