Ben Gans

Tilburg University, Tilburg School of Economics and Management (TiSEM), and the Netherlands Defence Academy (NLDA).

Ben Gans

Stabilisation Operations as Complex System

Many researchers and practitioners support the idea to focus on strengthening coordination and integration efforts between the actors involved in stabilisation operations, understood as linear approaches. In these linear thought processes we expect that inputs and outputs will be proportional and that interactions are well traceable through a well-established chain of causes and effects. However, stabilisation operations are argued to be influenced by endogenous as well as exogenous forces in a non-linear fashion. As a result, the system’s condition is highly uncertain. Organisations need quality information to cope with uncertainty. However, during stabilisation operations there is an abundance of ambiguous information among the actors involved. Moreover, in a complex, dynamic and uncertain environment with many actors and conflicting interests, there are important incentives for these actors to mistrust information. As a result, stabilisation operations are dealing with an information asymmetry between the actors involved.

Little is known about the impact of the non-linear sciences on stabilisation operations. Therefore, this study focuses on gaining a more detailed understanding of the manner in which their concepts and principles can be seen working through present theories and practices of stabilisation operations. More particularly, this study explores how endogenous and exogenous forces influence the condition of stabilisation operations as complex system, its subsequent influence on the system’s self-regulating ability to differentiate and integrate its sub-systems, their resources, and development of capabilities adjusted to the system’s condition. The outcomes of this study will improve the theoretical understanding of stabilisation operations as complex system and offers a conceptualisation which allows for a new reading of the organisational design of stabilisation operations.

The objective of this study is twofold. First, it addresses questions regarding the influences of endogenous and exogenous forces on stabilisation operations by developing a conceptual model which deals with the system’s various possible conditions and its subsequent impact on the system’s self-regulating ability to create context-specific capabilities. The second objective is to better understand the role of information processing as the key organising concept through which the self-regulating system differentiates and integrates its resources and capabilities.