A Proposal for Integrating Theories of Complexity for Better Understanding Global Systemic Risks

Armin Haas, Manfred Laubichler, Joffa Applegate, Gesine Steudle, Carlo C. Jaeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The global financial crisis of 2008 has shown that the present financial system involves global systemic risks. The dimension of these risks is hard to grasp with the conceptual tools that have been developed to tackle conventional risks like fire or car accidents. While modern societies know quite well how to deal with conventional risks, we have not yet been equally successful at dealing with global systemic risks. For managing this kind of risks, one needs to understand critical features of specific global systems where many human agents interact in ever changing complex networks. Here we apply two specific dimensions of complexity theory for dealing with global systemic risk in an integrated fashion: normal accidents and extended evolution. Both of them have successfully been applied to the analysis of systemic risks. As a paradigmatic example of global systemic risks, we focus on the global financial crisis that began in 2008, and suggest that the future evolution of the financial system could either see a further increase in complexity, or a reversal to a less complex system. We explore and contrast the implications of normal accident theory and extended evolution perspectives and suggest a four-point research strategy informed by complexity theory for better understanding global systemic risks in financial systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1945-1951
Number of pages7
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Extended evolution
  • global financial crisis
  • global systemic risks
  • key currency
  • normal accidents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)


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