Critical Review of Colander & Kupers (2014), Complexity and the Art of Public Policy

Mergen Dyussenov


The authors attempt to introduce complexity theory to public policy discourse. Despite certain benefits it brings, complexity remains challenging in terms of its operationalization. Furthermore, the authors could not include specific examples of complexity policy implementation cases, as well as specific conditions that would be more favorable to complexity implementation. Thus, complexity largely remains an abstract theoretical construct rather than a concrete practical approach to solving policy issues. Conventional economic theories, despite all their possible shortcomings and limitations, do provide a more or less acceptable and useable measurability and operational tools, enabling a policy expert to draw specific policy conclusions and offer recommendations.


Colander, Kupers, complexity

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Colander, D. C., & Kupers, R. (2014). Complexity and the Art of Public Policy: Solving Society’s Problems From the Bottom Up. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Coyle, D. (2014, June 14). Slow demise of the economist ex machina. The Enlightened Economist. Accessed on February, 14, 2015, from:

Squazzoni, F. (2014). A Social Science-Inspired Complexity Policy: Beyond the mantra of incentivization. Complexity, 19 (6), pp. 5–13. Accessed on February, 14, 2015, from:

Wilson, D. S. (2014, June 18). Two Cheers for Complexity and the Art of Public Policy. The Evolution Institute. Accessed on February 14, 2015, from:



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