The concept of panarchy provides a framework that characterizes complex systems of people and nature as dynamically organized and structured within and across scales of space and time. It has been more than a decade since the introduction of panarchy. Over this period, its invocation in peer-reviewed literature has been steadily increasing, but its use remains primarily descriptive and abstract. Here, we discuss the use of the concept in the literature to date, highlight where the concept may be useful, and discuss limitations to the broader applicability of panarchy theory for research in the ecological and social sciences. Finally, we forward a set of testable hypotheses to evaluate key propositions that follow from panarchy theory.