Types of complexities



“The definitions that McShea proposes are based upon two dichotomies: object versus process, and hierarchical versus nonhierarchical structure. These dichotomies yield four different types of complexity: (1) Nonhierarchical object complexity; (2) nonhierarchical process complexity; (3) hierarchical object complexity; and (4) hierarchical process complexity.”

Read the original >>

Mcshea's concepts of complexity
Figure: Illustrations for Mcshea’s complexity concepts. 

Abstract from (another) paper on complexity:

“This article describes five types of complexity in the operation of social security benefits. The first is intrinsic complexity: some benefits are complex in their concept, structure or operation. The second is extrinsic: systems become complicated when several benefits or agencies have to be dealt with. Third, there are complex rules. Some are imposed for administrative reasons, but there may also be some ‘conditionality’, including moral conditions and rules about rationing. Fourth, there are complex management systems, including the proliferation of agencies and the problems of information management. Finally, there is complexity that arises through the situation of claimants. Benefits which try to adjust to people’s changing circumstances require elaborate rules and procedures, and they are always slightly out of step. If we want to simplify benefits, we need to focus on conditionality, administrative rules and management procedures. Some aspects of complexity, however, are unavoidable.
Five types of complexity Author: Spicker, Paul Source: Benefits, Volume 13, Number 1, February 2005, pp. 5-9(5). Publisher: Policy Press Read the abstract >>


Just to summarize the complexity types described by these papers:

  • Instrinsic complexity
    • Concept
    • Structure
    • Operation
  • Extrinsic
  • Complex rules (eg. conditionality)
  • Complex management systems
  • Nonhierarchical object complexity
  • nonhierarchical process complexity
  • hierarchical object complexity
  • hierarchical process complexity

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