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Research

"We continue to find your insights into virtual community both important and valuable… Your enthusiasm and clear message got the rest of the presentations off to a good start."

— Comdex

Dr. Mary Ann Allison presents "Gecyberschaft: Understanding Virtual Community as a Complete Shift in Society" for Microsoft Research.

Dr. Eric Allison talks with Chris McCarus of MichiganNow.org outside the Detroit Historical Museum about Historic Preservation and "New Yorker’s Lessons For Detroiters".

Dr. Mary Ann Allison talks about "Teaching with Technology" at Hofstra University.


Research and teaching—in business, government, and academia—are fundamental to the Allison Group’s purpose.

Dr. Mary Ann Allison’s research interests and presentation topics include:

  • the successes and challenges in community revitalization
  • her award-winning model for understanding the ongoing changes in society today
  • using complex systems theory for business and government success
  • Mary Ann provides practical roadmaps to help everyone make better decisions for our children,in our businesses, schools, and government agencies, and—not least—in our individual lives.



    Dr. Eric Allison’s research interests and keynote topics include:

  • on the place of historic preservation in the creation and maintenance of livable cities
  • preservation and sustainability
  • questions of heritage policy and implementation in a changing society
  • Eric is passionate about grounding our fast-moving society by protecting our common heritage.



    Information about and examples of our work

    Community Revitalization in New Cassel, New York

    At the turn of the 21st century, New Cassel suffered from the effects of race, gender, and class segregation and discrimination; a lack of affordable housing; no downtown center; environmental contamination; overcrowded housing; and community despair and discord.

    In 2002, after four years of community outreach, education, and organization led by Sustainable Long Island (link) and UNCCRC,* more than 800 community residents and stakeholders developed a comprehensive Vision Plan describing their hopes for New Cassel during a facilitated community participation process.

    * UNCCRC—the Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation—acts on behalf of the community in this renewal process.

    Seeking a shared vision for New Cassel
    Photographs from the 2002 community visioning charette. Images courtesy Sustainable Long Island

    Formally adopted by the Town of North Hempstead in 2003, this plan has helped a committed multilevel government partnership raise more than $120 million in public and private funding and guides the ongoing renewal work.



    This research was conducted under the auspices of The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University® (NCSS). NCSS is a non-partisan research institution dedicated to promoting objective, academically rigorous study of suburbia's problems, as well as its promise. Mary Ann Allison was the Principal Investigator. Partial funding has been provided by Sustainable Long Island, The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University®, and The School of Communication at Hofstra University.

    Historic Preservation

    Eric Allison's most recent book covers such issues as:

    • Preservation's contribution to the economy
    • The economic and environmental benefits historic structures
    • The link between affordable housing and the importance of preserving our existing building stock

    Historic Preservation and the Livable City offers compelling evidence that cities, towns, and rural environments that implement historic preservation actually compete at a higher level economically and are more sustainable. They are more attractive to both prospective and current residents as well as visitors. In a world where cities must attract visitors and residents, historic preservation is an important and often overlooked tool.

    Social Change and Virtual Communities

    Dr. Mary Ann Allison's doctoral thesis Gecyberschaft: A Theoretical Model for the Analysis of Emerging Electronic Communities - won the Harold A. Innis Award for Outstanding Dissertation in the Field of Media Ecology.

    read a 2 page abstract of Dr. Allison's thesis

    Practical, warm, and down-to-earth, Mary Ann Allison is an expert at using stories to help a wide range of audiences to bridge the gaps that rapid change brings.

    • The Unacceptably High Cost of Stopping Social Change
    • Globalization is Not Just Out There; It's in Here: How Our Lives, Loves, Thoughts, and Families are Changing
    • Solving Wicked Problems: Why the UN and Developed Countries Can't Solve Big Problems Like Pollution and AIDs and Who Can
    • After Bureaucracy, Groups of Purpose: The Coming of a New Most Powerful Group in the World
    • A Map to the New World: Even If You are Completely Unconnected, We all Live in Virtual Community
    • What Teachers need to know About Teaching Students Today: You can see their cell phones but what about the invisible changes in their social processes and norms?

    The Complexity Advantage

    Mary Ann Allison coauthored The Complexity Advantage: How the Science of Complexity Can Help Your Business Achieve Peak Performance, one of the first books to make practical use of the concepts arising in complex systems theory. The Wall Street Journal described it by saying: “Anyone who grasps the concepts in The Complexity Advantage will have the power to change a business in startling ways. ...These are big ideas. I strongly suspect that the insights of complexity science will blaze a bright new trail for business. And there is no better place to start than here.”

    Dr. Allison speaks with organizations about how to apply complex systems theory in a practical way.

    • The Complexity Advantage: How the Science of Complexity Can Help Your Business Achieve Peak Performance
    • Walking the Talk of the New Business Models