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Consciously Self-reflexive Global Initiatives: Renaissance zones, complex adaptive systems, and third order organizations


Consciously Self-reflexive Global Initiatives
Recursion and self-reflexivity
Dematerialization and virtualization
Progressive self-reflexive learning
Progressive integration of the shadow of non-self-reflexivity
Insightful "rebirth" and emergent thought structures
Imagination, constructivism, faith-based reality, revisionism and "spin"
Form, geometry, pattern and dimensionality
Cybernetics of cybernetics: complex adaptive systems?
Indicative examples of 2nd and 3rd order environments
Conclusion: emergence of "post-systemic" forms of organization of "higher order"?

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The case is frequently made for "new thinking" better adapted to the complex of challenges foreseen for the 21st century -- and the decades immediately to come. In the light of learning regarding the relative inadequacy of the forms of organization and practice typically considered appropriate to thechallenge, the question is how to explore the possibility of new forms of organization -- whether of knowing or as embodied in collective initiatives.

The following sections consider different ways in which the mode or form of "description" of an organizational system is itself progressively brought into question from increasingly recursive or self-referential perspectives. The cognitive assumptions associated with the "perspective" metaphor may also be called into question with greater self-reflexivity, notably in the light of the arguments of enactivism.

The sections on dematerialization and virtualization endeavour to highlight the extent to which centre of gravity of modes of cognition and practice has shifted away from the tangible and immediately concrete. Thereafter the sections indicate various understandings of the spectrum of "higher" degrees of subtlety, notably as encoded in form, geometry, pattern and dimensionality. The insights of the cybernetics of cybernetics are then distinguished to highlight the shift in current interest to complex adaptive systems. Resources on possible examples of such self-reflexive adaptive initiatives are then presented. The conclusion is used to present a table juxtaposing these various understandings of organization of an increasingly higher order.

The implicit question throughout is how to distinguish and comprehend the forms of genuinely self-reflexive global initiatives appropriate to the challenges of the times -- and how to give organized form to such understanding. This is an effort to challenge the dangerous assumption of simplicity made by many with aspirations for responsibility in global governance. It is too readily assumed that the complexity of policy control, and switching between programmes, is of the same order as that of using a TV remote controller -- when many would be challenged to programme a VCR, or to comprehend the manual provided.

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