For many businesses—and for society in general—emergent phenomena have become more prevalent in recent years. One reason is that cities and other urban areas have gotten more crowded. In addition, people are now interconnected to a greater degree (thanks, in part, to the Internet and other communications technologies). As population densities and the number of interactions among people increase, so does the probability of emergent phenomena. Furthermore, some businesses are becoming much more interconnected and complicated. The complexity of the stock market, for instance, has surged with a greater number of participants, including casual investors, and with the creation of sophisticated financial instruments like derivatives.
Read more about understanding and predicting the behavior of emergent phenomena at HBR.org.