The present paper will sketch the basic ideas of the complexity paradigm, and then apply them to social systems, and in particular to groups of communicating individuals who together need to agree about how to tackle some problem or how to coordinate their actions. I will elaborate these concepts to provide an integrated foundation for a theory of self-organization, to be understood as a non-linear process of spontaneous coordination between actions. Such coordination will be shown to consist of the following components: alignment, division of labor, workflow and aggregation. I will then review some paradigmatic simulations and experiments that illustrate the alignment of references and communicative conventions between communicating agents. Finally, the paper will summarize the preliminary results of a series of experiments that I devised in order to observe the emergence of collective intelligence within a communicating group, and interpret these observations in terms of alignment, division of labor and workflow
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