Partnerships and Networks as Self-Organizing Systems: an Antidote to Principal-Agent Theory

  • Tony Bovaird
  • Sudi Sharifi


This paper examines the concept of self-organization, by means of which groups of agents accommodate each other, acquire collective properties which they could not individually possess, and achieve outcomes which they value, without anyone being in charge or consciously planning it. This concept, developed in the natural sciences, appears to fly in the face of ‘the incessant forces of dissolution described by the second law of thermodynamics’ (Waldrop, 1994: 102). It also offers the prospect of an alternative viewpoint on how action can be mobilized to that offered by principal-agent theory.


Network Member County Level Human System Complex Adaptive System Parish Level 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tony Bovaird
  • Sudi Sharifi

There are no affiliations available

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