Select Page


Collaboration Competencies for Complex Social Challenges

Format: Papers, RSD9, Topic: Policy & Governance

Goran Matic

Chaordic Design, Canada

This paper outlines some of the key findings from an MDes Master Research Project (MRP) thesis. It explores potentials of collaborating in the context of complex societal issues – that exist at the intersection of ‘wicked problems’ (Rittel & Webber, 1973), ‘problematiques’ (Christakis, 2006), ‘social messes’ (Ackoff, 1974; Horn & Weber, 2007), ‘super–wicked problems’ (Levin et al., 2012) and the more recently postulated, ‘post-modern complexity’ (Cilliers, 2002).

The paper argues that the outlined categories of issue complexity belong to a larger unified typology, termed as ‘complex social challenges’ (Matic, 2017) – characterized by intrinsic asymmetries that give rise to the cognitive, contextual and cooperative ambiguities. Within such spaces, it is posited as necessary to consider the experiences of the key stakeholders from the liminal (Turner, 1995; Gennep, 1960) and salutogenic sense‐of‐coherence (Antonovsky, 1996) perspectives – to enhance the sustainability of the associated participatory engagement models.

A new type of collaboration is proposed for effectively engaging complex challenges, posited as a ‘collaboration for complexity’. The new collaborative modality calls for specific meta-cognitive competencies capable of effectively engaging the exigent ambiguities. A typology of collaborative skillsets is presented – situated in a posited stakeholder journey through the uncertain spaces of liminality.

Citation Data

Author(s): Goran Matic
Title: Collaboration Competencies for Complex Social Challenges
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 4 October 2020
Last update:
Publisher Identification:

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

Publishing with RSD

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

The Organising Committee reviews and assesses workshops and systems maps & exhibits with input from reviewers and the Programme Committee.

Editor: Cheryl May
Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

The scholar’s spiral

In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholar's spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

The Systemic Design Association's membership ethos is to co-create the socialization and support for all members to contribute their work, find feedback and collaboration where needed, and pursue their pathways toward research and practice outcomes that naturally build a vital design field for the future.


Share This
Verified by MonsterInsights