Transitions are structural innovations of societal systems in reaction to wicked problems threatening development. In this paper we develop a transactional model of transitions based on Coleman’s linear system of action. The model implemented has the characteristics of a dissipative system. A variation and selection algorithm favoring the selection of relatively dependent actors into the social system forces the system away from equilibrium. Exchange of control, according to Coleman the driving force behind social action, accounts for dissipation and brings the social system back to equilibrium. We expect the Transactional Model of Transitions to show complex dynamics. Power law behavior and punctuated equilibrium are of special interest, as these are closely connected to hypotheses on social dynamics developed in the literature on societal transitions and system innovations. We present simulation results for various variation and selection procedures, interpret their meaning in the light of societal transitions and system innovations and discuss their conformity with actual social processes. Our results show that the Transactional Model of Transitions indeed shows complex dynamics, mirrors some of the characteristics of transition dynamics and is promising for further research on Transition Management. We did not yet find conclusive evidence of evolution to the edge of chaos, self-organized criticality and/or power law behavior.

Department of Public Administration

Timmermans, J.S. (2006). Complex dynamics in a transactional model of societal transitions. Retrieved from