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A discussion on the appropriateness of the employment of the Complex Adaptive Systems theory for the research of Central Retail Locations

Theodoridis, C (2015) A discussion on the appropriateness of the employment of the Complex Adaptive Systems theory for the research of Central Retail Locations. In: 18th International Conference on Research in the Distributive Trades.

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Abstract

The aim of this conference paper is to explore the idea of researching, analysing, presenting, and most importantly understanding town-centres as a complex adaptive system (CAS). Numerous researchers, scholars and practitioners, have discussed and highlighted the anthropomorphic characteristics of town-centres; some making a linguistic transcendence and some others in their attempt to describe relationships that move beyond the traditional norms of organisations. Wrigley and Lambiri (2014, p.15) have stressed the emergence of “symbiotic relationships” between corporate retailers and local independent stores stating also the gap in the research that will assess this issue. In the same study they concluded (ibid) that town centres can be viewed as “highly complex ecosystems with myriad capacities to adjust to change”. Portas (2012, p.14) in her review on the future of the high-streets in a linguistic overrun she suggests that her vision is to “breathe life” back to the high-streets. The application of complexity theory in the organisational analysis is well-established however it has never been used to explore town-centre dynamics. This conceptual paper relates the fundamental ideas of complexity theory to town-centres and provides a framework for discussion of the systemic characteristics of stakeholders’ integration within them.

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