A Complexity Theory Framework of Issue Movement

Business and Society 59 (6):1110-1150 (2020)
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This research draws on complexity theory to provide an alternative conceptualization of issue management. We use six dynamics of complexity drawn from complex adaptive systems—equipoise, turbulence, sensitive conditions, bifurcation, attractor emergence, and symmetry breaking—to develop a metaphorical framework that describes what occurs during various periods of issue activity and what propels issues from one period of activity to another. We illustrate the framework with a case study of the pharmaceutical industry response to the HIV/aids pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. The article concludes with a discussion of the additional affordances this framework provides to extend and compliment issue life cycle models.



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