Call for Papers: Large Systems Change, Transformations and Transitions and Transition: An emerging field


This issue is being developed by the GOLDEN Ecosystems Lab Paper Group.

Lead Editor:  Steve Waddell, Lead Steward – GOLDEN Ecosystems Labs; Principal – NetworkingAction, USA

  • Sarah Cornell, Planetary Boundaries Coordinator – Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden
  • Domenico Dentoni, Assistant Professor – Agribusiness Management and Strategy, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  • Malcolm McIntosh, Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia
  • Milla Mclachlan, Frmr.Director – Research and Information Division of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Director – Southern Africa Food Lab, South Africa
  • Greta Meszoely, Director – Center for Business Complexity and Global Leadership – Suffolk University, USA
  • Sandra Waddock, Galligan Chair of Strategy, Carroll School Scholar of Corporate Responsibility, and Professor of Management – Carroll School of Management at Boston College, USA

The Topic

There is a new field of knowledge and practice emerging with various names, such as large or whole systems change, transitions management, transformation science, and earth systems governance. It is arising as our conventional theoretical frameworks and planning and management approaches fail to inspire and inform change to the degree necessary to tackle twenty-first century problems. Unprecedented technological developments and increases in connectivity, which give us ‘big data’ and vastly enhanced opportunities for global collaboration must be matched by robust theoretical frameworks and social technologies if human and earth systems are to flourish.  The task is urgent, as societies roar through dangerous carbon emission levels and witness unprecedented bio-diversity loss, communities live with pernicious rates of poverty, food insecurity and inequality, and experience continuing civil unrest, terrorism and war.  That change is possible and is seen where communities and societies are overcoming poverty, firms and governments are shedding the yoke of corruption, and people are living longer, healthier, more hopeful lives.

As these cases show, there is increasing knowledge about how to address complex issues, yet much greater knowledge and capacity is needed, if we are to successfully make the necessary transitions for  a thriving future for all.  We use the phrase large system change (LSC) to mean the transformation or fundamental reframing of human systems involving multiple interrelated and connected organizations, institutions, norms, and behaviors at individual, organizational, societal, and global levels.  We use the term ‘system’ to mean interacting and connected, interdependent entities, i.e., institutions, that comprise a complex network—or what Koestler (1968) called holons (wholes consisting of other ‘wholes’ as their parts).  In this special issue we look to advance this field by further describing it and identifying state-of-the-art knowledge and practice of LSC.  This call for papers seeks conceptual, empirical, and case-based papers that contribute to building our collective understanding of LSC, including what it is, when and how it is useful, , when and how it is harmful, what approaches work (or do not work), what types of issues are best addressed through LSC efforts, and related topics.


We invite submissions that draw from the broad range of relevant traditions including: socio-economic development, business in society, management, learning and assessment, health and education, peace-making and conflict management, spiritual and individual growth, cultural, and psychological, earth system governance, systems dynamics, strategy, change management, sociology, law, political science and related areas. Illustrative topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Analysis and approaches to LSC addressing significant challenges such as power, scale, entrenched opposition, inequity, poverty, resilience and sustainability or topical challenges in fields such as food and agriculture, energy, social protection, health, urbanization, climate change, economic development, jobs, and others.
  • LSC theory, conceptualization, and frameworks
  • Methodologies, approaches, and tools for effective LSC
  • Scaling LSC
  • Cases analyzing LSC approaches

Contributions of 4,000 – 6,000 words should be submitted for double-blind review.


This special issue will be the June, 2015 issue of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship.  Key dates are

  • April 1:  Deadline for submission of max. 500-word abstracts (optional) to Steve Waddell  NOTE:  responses to abstracts will be sent within one week of their receipt
  • April 7:  Latest response to abstracts
  • June 30, 2014:  Deadline for submission of full papers via the online submission form.
  • November 1, 2014:  Second/final draft due.  :  Submission of revisions, if requested.
  • Jan. 20, 2015: All revised papers due.

JCC is published in print and online formats. It is also included as part of the Sustainable Organization Library (

Contact Details:

For more information, or to discuss ideas or submit an abstract, contact Steve Waddell:

Guidelines for contributions available on this site or contact

Jayney Bown
Greenleaf Publishing
Aizlewood Business Centre
Aizlewood’s Mill
Sheffield S3 8GG
Tel: +44 (0)114 282 3475
Fax: +44 (0)114 282 3476

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