Solving Complex Problems, Helping a World in Crisis

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 March 2021) | Viewed by 9691

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
International Conflict Management, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA 30144, USA
Interests: individualism; collectivism; social identity; culture; decision-making

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

COVID-19, racial violence, unemployment, poverty and economic depression, climate change, terrorism, mass migration, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction are among the most visible contemporary global threats that, each by themselves, severely disrupt not only our way of life but potentially also our ability to live. These threats are interconnected; they cause each other and, in combination, magnify their damaging impact on communities, society, international relations, and our ability to live together or, at a minimum, coexist peacefully. Some experts have called these problems “existential threats” ([1] Buzan et al. 1998) that require the use of extraordinary measures to address them. Others refer to these existential threats as intractable or “wicked” problems ([2] Rittel and Webber 1973) that are not easily definable and do not have clear solutions. Complex problems do not occur in a vacuum and, as Rittel and Webber (1973) suggest, “can be considered to be a symptom of another problem” and if the problem is attacked “on too low a level (an increment), then success of resolution may result in making things worse, because it may become more difficult to deal with the higher problems” (p. 165). Complex problems are inextricably interrelated with other complex problems, and may exacerbate existing problems or trigger new ones.

How can we effectively address complex problems? What course(s) of action can or should we take as communities, societies, countries, and with international partners to counter problems that threaten to undermine peace, development, and prosperity for us and future generations? How can we create the conditions that enable every human and our natural and physical environment to flourish? What, if any, are factors that could replace fear with hope for a better future? These are among the questions we seek answers to in this Special Issue of Societies. We invite your contributions that examine all aspects of complex problems and develop recommendations for how to address them locally, domestically, as well as internationally.

Contributions must fit within one of the three categories of papers (article, conceptual paper, or review) of the journal and address the topic of the Special Issue.

References

  1. Buzan, Barry. Ole Waever and Jaap de Wilde. Security: A New Framework for Analysis. Boulder, CO and London; Lynne Rienner: Boulder, CO., USA, 1998.
  2. Rittel, Horst and Melvin Webber. Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. Policy Sciences 1973, 4, 155–169.

Prof. Dr. Volker Franke
Guest Editor

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Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

30 pages, 3560 KiB  
Article
The Missing Ingredient for Successful Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships: Cooperative Capacity
by Mary Vayaliparampil, Frank Page and Eric Wolterstorff
Societies 2021, 11(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc11020037 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3884
Abstract
Multi-stakeholder partnerships are an essential vehicle for solving complex societal problems. Agreements governing these partnerships often lack equitable partner agency in framing and enforcing multi-stakeholder agreements. This challenges the partner cooperation needed of partnerships to be effective. This theoretical paper introduces a new [...] Read more.
Multi-stakeholder partnerships are an essential vehicle for solving complex societal problems. Agreements governing these partnerships often lack equitable partner agency in framing and enforcing multi-stakeholder agreements. This challenges the partner cooperation needed of partnerships to be effective. This theoretical paper introduces a new original model to measure and develop the cooperative capacity of multi-stakeholder partnerships so that future agreements involving the partnership are framed to share governance equitably among all partners and hence, increase partnership performance and effectiveness. The model provides a methodology to measure and develop the cooperative capacity of multi-stakeholder partnerships through key performance indicators that identify the cooperative state of partners and predicts partnership effectiveness in achieving common goals. The paper traces the theoretical genesis of the model, presents a comprehensive explanation of the model, and provides cases of the model’s application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solving Complex Problems, Helping a World in Crisis)
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17 pages, 586 KiB  
Article
Optimism and Social Resilience: Social Isolation, Meaninglessness, Trust, and Empathy in Times of COVID-19
by Volker C. Franke and Charles N. Elliott
Societies 2021, 11(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc11020035 - 14 Apr 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 5202
Abstract
Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of an existential threat, we conducted a nationwide survey in March 2020 asking 445 Americans about their hopes and fears, their opinions about the coronavirus pandemic, and their attitudes for getting through the public health crisis. [...] Read more.
Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of an existential threat, we conducted a nationwide survey in March 2020 asking 445 Americans about their hopes and fears, their opinions about the coronavirus pandemic, and their attitudes for getting through the public health crisis. In the present research, we examine the coronavirus pandemic as a complex problem and explore its effects on respondents’ levels of optimism to resolve the public health crisis. While much existing research examines the influence of risk perception on optimism, we specifically measure how respondents’ levels of empathy and trust affect social resilience and relate to hopes and fears for their personal health and public health in the United States. Specifically, we examine respondents’ levels of trust in government and their neighbors as well as their levels of empathy, alienation, and social isolation. Our research confirmed the importance of empathy to counter the spread of the virus while preventing economic collapse. In addition, we found that relational factors such as alienation and trust affect individuals’ levels of optimism or pessimism for getting through the public health crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solving Complex Problems, Helping a World in Crisis)
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