Designing the Means for Governing the Commons

  • Thomas R. FlanaganEmail author
Part of the Translational Systems Sciences book series (TSS, volume 1)


Empirical studies of emergent democratic social systems reveal elements which consistently are evoked during the design phase of the new institutions. Considerable scholarly work has been invested in understanding these elements and rationalizing how they collectively represent a precondition for building stable new democratic structures. Less attention has been directed at this time to optimizing this process by considering sequences with which the design elements might be evoked within specific civic contexts. This chapter represents a contribution to our thinking about possibilities for optimizing democratic emergence with enhanced collaborative design methodologies.

The design methodology illustrated is called Structured Dialogic Design in the United States and Structured Democratic Dialogue in Europe. It is a derivative of Interactive Management co-invented by Alexander N. Christakis and John N. Warfield in the 1970s. The method applies the engineering tool of Interpretive Structural Modeling within a soft systems context so that citizens of greatly varied levels of technological capacity can contribute equally in complex systems design. In its various forms, the design method has been used most consistently and extensively in the nation rebuilding efforts of the citizens of Cyprus over the past 20 years. The generic use of this method to design contextually-tuned pathways for democratic emergence has not previously been reported.


Collaborative design Democratic design Large group design Social systems design Systemic design 



The author is grateful for the encouragement and guidance that Dr. Kenneth C. Bausch provided in the effort to honor the contributions of the Ostroms and their colleagues in a concise and readable fashion.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for 21st Century Agoras, New England OfficeBarringtonUSA

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