The Use of Complex Adaptive Theory and Information Technologies to Inform Development Strategies in English Speaking Black Community, Montreal

Clarence Sylvester Bayne, Raafat George Saadé
International Journal of Community Development and Management Studies  •  Volume 2  •  2018  •  pp. 061-086

The purpose of this paper is to conduct a multi-case/agent analysis using complexity theory to develop propositions that guide and inform our research for solutions to the problems of integration and full participation of the English-speaking Black community in the societies of Montreal and Quebec.

This study was motivated by our interest in community organizational leader-ship, and concerns expressed by Black social entrepreneurs and organizations in the English-speaking Black communities of Montreal. The results of an unpublished survey conducted by the Institute for Community Entrepreneurship and Development (ICED) revealed a strong perception among Black leaders that in spite of their efforts to advance their communities there was too little progress. They attributed this to systemic exclusion and competitive strategies of mainstream non-Black agencies and leaders. Our further investigation of these claims suggested that beside discrimination based on color and race, factors more complex than skin color, being a person of African descent or White hate, were at work. Preliminary patterns in our observations suggest that the problems of exclusion and discrimination needed to be addressed in a broader psycho-social sense and in the context of Canada as a complex political, economic, and social adaptive system emerging continuously from generation to generation

We used historical analysis and dynamic systems constructs to understand the causality structures of human social systems and to design strategies that have the highest possibilities for improving and optimizing the objective and subjective well-being of members of targeted minority sub-groups in the system. The general research approach is deductive and exploratory. It conforms mostly to critical realist thinking as opposed to traditional scientific methodologies.

It is our opinion that communication network centers can be designed as part of a strategic planning process to increase the capacity of minority communities for creating, in a timely manner, the ingenuity required for solving problems of social, political and economic exclusion; for promoting sustainable development and improving objective and subjective well-being. The use of the MAS (multiple-agents system) analytical framework allows us to address and assess problems of decision making under varying degrees of uncertainty and in the social and historical context of the study.

Our review of the development and progress of the Black community of Montreal shows that “under the radar” community based organizations and Black Social entrepreneurs have developed governance mechanisms and generated strategies and approaches to decision making that are consistent with the optimal patterns observed in simulations of multi-agent systems (MAS) . In particular, social entrepreneurs seem to support the formal creation of community based communication networks and information sharing as essential for community development. Several of these organizations consider these useful tools for facilitating the sharing of innovative ideas and best practices.

The usefulness of the network community systems need to be monitored. Its usefulness will depend on how its outputs are perceived to have contributed to improving the level of fitness (the vitality and well-being/utility) of the community and its members. It will require a holistic approach to community development supported by network centers that provide communication and information services at levels that improve and sustain the capacity of the organizations and the community to adapt and evolve from generation to generation. The mechanisms in place must increase and sustain the capacity of the systems to achieve and maintain the desired level of outcomes consistent with attaining the highest fitness levels for the English speaking Black Communities. This must be tested with the help of information provided by a built in feedback subsystem of the network.

A central database has to be built into the system where social and economic data and measures of subsystem specific attributes and characteristics are gathered and stored for use by the network organizations and social entrepreneurs. There is no comprehensive measure of a fitness index for the Black community in Montreal. Theoretically speaking, there are too many possibilities to find a precise solution. However, an approximation of fitness can be obtained by constructing a human development index (HDI) in combination with measures of inequality such as comparative data on income, employment and unemployment, poverty, and etc.

The paper raises some questions about the success of the experiment of multiculturalism in terms of greater recognition of the contributions of Canada’s diverse and multiple sub-cultures. It proposes ways to address complaints of failed expectations expressed by Black and immigrant minority groups. The paper offers policy makers and social entrepreneurs a dynamic analytical framework to explore the use of information and communication network theory, and information from simulations of multi-agent adaptive systems theory to develop more informed strategies and actions.

More research needs to be done to improve the quality and expand the demographic and other data relating to the black communities in Montreal and Quebec. In addition, more research needs to be done on the development of an archival documentation system for the management and distribution of information between the different communities that make up the Black cultural community of Quebec and Canada.

Complex Adaptive systems, minority communities, diversity, communication technologies, ingenuity gap, cultural change models, communication and in-forming system
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