The Institute builds on a tradition of theoretical and applied complexity thinking to organizational and social issues. In this light it has established several general areas of research focus:
- The meaning and functions of leadership and individual agency are being redefined through the lens of complexity science. In particular, complexity science offers ways to explore how individual agency, the empowered actor, can influence large scale institutions and outcomes.
- Individual interactions, called Human Interaction Dynamics (HID) can be explored at what Gell-Mann calls the fine-grained level to understand how human systems differ from physical, chemical, and even biological systems.
- Impacts to human health, welfare, and well-being descend upon individual lives as much from political, economic, cultural and religious institutions as from day-to-day interactions with others. As such, an important area of study applies complexity to this influence process to shine light on how institutions come into being, change, and operate as emergent organizing forms and institutional structures.
From a functional perspective, the Institute supports research that would use complexity ideas to shed light on socio-ecological systems, political and cultural systems, and economic and social welfare systems.
In particular, the Institute is actively engaged in an initiative to define a set of order parameters which could be used to explore and to model the implications of changing physical, social, and economic parameters that can be observed within society and how these are reflected in the rules that govern fine-grained HID and then in turn how these are reflected in the organizing forms that might emerge under various scenarios.