Encyclopedia of World Problems

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title:5.4 Network strategy

1. The strategic reflex

The conventional approach of an organization or group to any problem situation is to elaborate a strategy, whether explicit or implicit. But, as Section P (Volume 1) attempts to show, the number, variety and interrelationships of the problems are such that it is legitimate to question whether any conventional strategy could be even partly adequate.

2. The hierarchical trap


title:5.2 Beyond "The Plan"

1. Absence of strategy tracing

There has never been any lack of comprehensive strategic plans in response to global, regional, national or local challenges. More are generated every year, notably by major United Nations conferences. It is not clear whether any international agency tracks commitments to such plans. No systematic record appears to be kept of action taken on the multitude of resolutions by international conferences. Few governments have the resources to keep effective track of their obligations with respect to international agreements.


title:4.4 Patterning the resolutique

The number of strategies and their degree of interrelationship are a continuing challenge to comprehension. Without any patterning, the amount of information is overwhelming. The simplistic patternings characteristic of conventional practice in documentation systems are however part of the conceptual problem rather than the solution. They disguise complexity and create deceptive impressions of order where order is lacking, or rather where higher forms of order are implicit.


title:4.3 Language games

This project is in many ways an exploration of the use of language and the effects of its use on the distinctions which are accepted in international discourse. The pertinent question is to what extent use of legitimate-sounding strategy names in practice signals the distinct existence of the named strategies. Furthermore, to what extent can strategies be effectively named and cross-related, without their having meaningful existence.


title:4.2 Concept refinement process

The procedure used in preparing the Encyclopedia (Notes 3.3 and 3.4) was initiated in 1984 and has increasingly become a purely "administrative" matter, especially since the proportion of new strategies or new classes of strategies seems certain to diminish, as was the case with world problems. The ongoing concern is therefore much more with the conceptual processes whereby the "strategy" associated with any given number is clarified through the naming (descriptor allocation) process.


title:4.1 Classification and section attribution

1. Collapsing or maintaining strategic distinctions

This project is designed to explore the complete range of strategies and action proposals. It can easily be argued that there are an infinite number of strategies, or at least as many strategies as there are organizations, still a daunting number. The challenge is therefore to develop some criteria through which very similar strategies can be clustered together -- even when they have very different names.



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