Journal History

Complexity, Governance & Networks was officially launched in 2014, but its intellectual beginnings can be traced back to early works by a group of scholars on chaos theory, nonlinear dynamics, self-organization, and complexity theory in public administration and policy in the US and Europe in the 1990s. American scholars Sam Overman, Douglas Kiel, Euel Elliott, and Louise Comfort published a series of books and articles in the Journal of Public Administration Research and TheoryJournal of Policy Analysis and ManagementPublic Administration Review, and others on these topics. Meanwhile, Dutch scholars Geert Teisman, Erik Hans-Klein, and others began publishing on similar topics in the late 1990s. 

More direct roots of the journal can be found in the Public Administration Theory Network (PAT-Net) conferences in the late 1990s. At the 1995 conference in Seattle Göktuǧ Morçöl, Linda Dennard, and the late John Little decided to organize conference panels on chaos/complexity theories in future conferences. In the following years Jack Meek, William Newell, and others joined this first group in organizing the panels. These panels continued, with varying degrees of success, until mid-2000s. Some of the papers presented by the panelists were published in a symposium issue in Administrative Theory & Praxis (1997) and an edited volume (New Sciences for Public Administration and Policy, 2000).

The participants of these PAT-Net panels began collaborating with European scholars in the subsequent years, which formed the organizational basis of launching and publishing Complexity, Governance & Networks. An international workshop on complexity and policy analysis was organized by some of the initial members of the PAT-Net complexity/chaos group, and hosted by Linda Dennard, in Cork, Ireland, in 2005. This group expanded, particularly with the participation of Dutch scholars Geert Teisman and Lasse Gerrits, in the following years, and the expanded group organized two “COMPACT conferences” in Rotterdam in 2011 and Los Angeles in 2013. 

Parallel to these developments, some members of the initial PAT-Net group initiated the process of forming the Section on Complexity and Network Studies of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), under the leadership of Alexander Dawoody. In 2006, the section was officially established, and Göktuǧ Morçöl was elected its first chair. In 2008, the National Council of ASPA granted the section its permanent status. 

The initial ideas to start a new journal were formulated in discussions at both the COMPACT and ASPA groups. The efforts to organize the editorial board of the journal and find a publisher came to fruition at the COMPACT conference in Rotterdam, where the plans to launch the journal were finalized. Göktuğ Morçöl and Geert Teisman agreed to serve as the first co-editors in chief, representing the two groups of scholars in the US and Europe. Lasse Gerrits agreed to serve as the first  managing editor of the journal. The first issue of the journal was published in 2014, under the ownership of Baltzer Scientific Publishers, a Dutch publisher of special area journals. 

Baltzer published the journal until 2016 in both print and online formats. In 2016, Geert Teisman stepped down as co-editor-in-chief and Lasse Gerrits stepped into this role. In the same year, Baltzer agreed to transfer the ownership and publishing rights of the journal to ASPA, and the University of Bamberg Press agreed to publish it as an online open-access journal, with the support of funds from the German Federal government. This publishing arrangement continued until 2022. In 2019, Göktuğ Morçöl stepped down as co-editor-in-chief and Asim Zia stepped into this role.