Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Complexity management and multi-scale governance : a case study in an Amazonian indigenous association

Espinosa, A.; Duque, C.


A. Espinosa

C. Duque


Even if Community Operational Research provides methodologies and tools to support community development, there are no published works illustrating how we can support an assessment of self-governance in an indigenous community using COR tools. In this paper we present exploratory research to provide such support to an indigenous association in the Amazon jungle. To address issues of multi-culturalism, we used a creative choice of methods, which included elements of boundary critique, the Viable System Model, rich pictures and social cartography research. We explore the possibilities that this mixed methods approach to COR offers to clarify the core dilemmas and paradoxes of self-governance for sustainability that such communities are facing. The analysis is done through VSM mapping of the community, at different levels and scales of organisation. Our analysis reveals key paradoxes and dilemmas of self-governance, which is helping them to collectively decide on action paths and their needs to (re) develop certain adaptive capabilities. In particular, we show that loss of power from traditional (spiritual) authorities, and loss of rituals and other cooperative practices have negatively affected indigenous ways of implementing life plans and respecting sustainability principles. This research contributes to COR, in presenting an innovative application of the VSM in an indigenous community, supported by expert facilitation, as the basis for reflecting on their self- governance challenges and acting upon them. It takes into account a more critical and ethnographic approach to research, capable of better dealing with the variety of a multi-cultural context.


Espinosa, A., & Duque, C. (2018). Complexity management and multi-scale governance : a case study in an Amazonian indigenous association. European journal of operational research, 268(3), 1006-1020.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 17, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 21, 2017
Publication Date Aug 1, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 11, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 22, 2019
Journal European journal of operational research
Print ISSN 0377-2217
Electronic ISSN 0377-2217
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 268
Issue 3
Pages 1006-1020
Keywords OR in developing countries; OR in societal problem analysis; Distributed decision making; OR for community development; Group decisions and negotiations
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in European journal of operational research, 2018. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations