Understanding Amsterdam Airport Schiphol through Controversies



The question of how to organize collaborative problem-solving efforts when collective action is necessary has received considerable attention in the scientific literature. More recently, it is even argued that to organize successful collaborative arrangements, the complex system characteristics of the governance system in which such an arrangement is applied needs to be taken into account. This would trigger a bandwagon effect of mutually reinforcing changes and be successful in overcoming deadlocks. In this paper, we will argue that this line of reasoning is far from complete, even resulting in misguiding conclusions. By analyzing the governance of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, we suggest that—instead of complicating the problem by establishing more self-organizing collaborative bodies, hoping to avoid path dependencies and bring new solutions—there is rather a need to clear ‘the disposition of complexity’ profoundly, towards concrete associative opportunities, and co-evolution beyond political agendas and/or plans. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.