Large Spatial and Temporal Separations of Cause and Effect in Policy Making – Dealing with Non-linear Effects

  • John McCaskillEmail author
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


There can be large spatial and temporal separation of cause and effect in policy making. Determining the correct linkage between policy inputs and outcomes can be highly impractical in the complex environments faced by policy makers. In attempting to see and plan for the probable outcomes, standard linear models often overlook, ignore, or are unable to predict catastrophic events that only seem improbable due to the issue of multiple feedback loops. There are several issues with the makeup and behaviors of complex systems that explain the difficulty many mathematical models (factor analysis/structural equation modeling) have in dealing with non-linear effects in complex systems. This chapter highlights those problem issues and offers insights to the usefulness of ABM in dealing with non-linear effects in complex policy making environments.


Complexity science Non-linear effects Agent-based modeling Policy making 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Affairs and SociologyUniversity of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

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