The art of communication and the science of complexity are intriguing areas of thought and practice that can be examined through storytelling. In an increasingly complex world with many voices, a deeper understanding of complexity communication provides opportunities for researchers and practitioners. This paper discussion centers on Complexity Communication, and the Complex Responsive Processes within the storytelling environment. Complexity theory explores how independent agents interact with each other. Complexity is different from chaos and emerges through a process of human interaction, which is best seen through the art of storytelling. This article explores storytelling and the social construction and discursive elements within the process of human interaction. This discussion advances the call from Hoffman (2008) to embrace the ideas within complexity communication.
Can the mass utilization of biofuels help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels? Four particular types of biofuels have been the subject of extensive study in this regard: corn ethanol, sugar cane ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and biodiesel. This paper overviews the evidence from the literature on Lifecycle Assessment studies pertaining to these four fuels and finds that no definitive answer to these questions exists in the literature. The example of biofuels co-products is used to illustrate the reason why no easy answer can be arrived at from these studies. The deeper sources of variation within the literature are identified as well as the requirements that would be needed to formulate an LCA which can provide conclusive and actionable answers.
Routines and organizational capabilities are central constructs in explanations of firms’ heterogeneity and sustained competitive advantage in industries and markets. Building on the foundational contribution of Nelson and Winter, the routines and knowledge capabilities of firms have been a major focus of theorizing in many areas within innovation and management research. Despite this, numerous issues still remain unresolved, particularly regarding the specific mechanisms by which capabilities emerge and develop over time. In this paper, we contend that the evolutionary approach to the firm pioneered by Nelson and Winter can resolve existing contentious issues about the topic by adopting a complexity perspective. In particular, we argue that a view of the firm as a complex adaptive system enhances evolutionary explanations of the origin of organizational capabilities, and how these emerge and change via processes of organizational learning. In addition, we show that embedding this view within a general evolutionary framework emphasizes the role of knowledge capabilities as sources of developmental variety in the evolution of firms, and allows accounting for their creation via self-organizing processes as a fundamental dynamic force in economic evolution.
The aim of this paper is to present a bench marking and diagnostic tool within the hierarchical Linnaean and cladistic representation of the discrete manufacturing systems presented. This is achieved through attempts of moving away from the ignorance of the past through a knowledge creating process exploring the opportunities of the future. The paper develops a theoretical perspective facilitating a knowledge creation process for moving away from the ignorance of the past and present, an engaging in a collective inquiry for developing instruments for manufacturing change. There are two main stages for the research methods in this paper. Firstly, there is a speed-read technique of quick species identification. The Linnaean hierarchy of discrete manufacturing organization is the map into which the manufacturing organisation can search out its closest present identity. Secondly, there is a practical application on fitness/performance improvement. This is characterized by a comparison of a current company species to the ideal or typical textbook species. This exercise is done within the high-resolution profiles or representations of both the current and ideal states of the species. Using the speed-read and the kiviat comparison approach, a manufacturing organization can identify where they are in evolutionary history of discrete manufacturing systems. Then it can be assisted in searching out the general improvement potential of their organization. The classifications forms the basis for a further practical stage of the research — a web-based expert system and diagnostic tool that will complement a larger software system architecture. The aim of this is to simplify, and make accessible, essential tools for the rapid design, simulation and virtual prototyping of factories. The classifications also have a novel use in an educational context as it simplifies and organizes extant knowledge and adds another layer of information in terms of the evolutionary relationships between manufacturing systems. The work presented here is the first attempt at unifying extant classifications producing complementary, comprehensive, classifications of generic production systems that spans industrial sectors of discrete manufacturing. Based on this classification it presents application for manufacturing change.
A review of the Lifecycle Assessment literature concerning biofuels found no conclusive answers on the important and policy-relevant questions of whether biofuels can help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and whether they are an efficient source of energy. This inconclusiveness is attributed to the problematic specification of these papers, which cannot give actionable and policy-relevant answers. The main problems in the specification of the papers are: the reliance on aggregate-based modeling rather than investigating the impact of specific policies, the absence of integration within a dynamic economic model that includes the price effects, the focus on emissions quantities rather than the environmental impact of the emissions, and missing. This paper draws on insights from economics and philosophy of science to explain the underlying reasons why LCA studies fail to reach conclusive answers.
This paper examines the dynamics in organizational innovation processes, and in particular, the role blockages. The case covers the process of designing a joint-stock enterprise that is partly owned by the employees and partly by the federation of municipalities, and is to deliver primary health care services to a set of municipalities. After a promising start, the process is now stuck before it has reached the implementation phase. The purpose of the paper is to examine the dynamics in the organizational innovation process, and in particular, the role of blockages and failures. By highlighting the value of complexity theoretical thinking, this paper seeks to contribute to our understanding of the nature of organizational innovation in the public sector and the analytical power of complexity. The data consists of interviews with the key actors in the process and is analysed by applying theory driven content analysis. Preliminary results suggest that the organizational innovation process is characterized by an active use of relational potential and a sequence of unexpected events resulting in emergent patterns. The space of possibilities not only frames the system but also enables co-evolutionary dynamics to emerge. Contrary to the fitness (or performance) landscape models, where the (organizational) structure is seen as an important determinant of the innovation potential, it does not seem to play a central role in this particular case. Results suggest that the innovation itself emerges in the complex responsive processes of relating between key actors, long before the end result of the process is realized. A structural failure might turn into a relational success.
Firm beginning matters because in the early days different configurations are tried to cope with challenges and opportunities of their environment. It is in this early days that a new organization emerge -it is forged- because of the continuous trial and error exercises. In this first stage, drastic changes might happen that determine and configure their internal organization, culture and values; that is possible because of the firm´s size, lack of path dependence and an incipient culture. If a fit between the new firm and the market´s requirements is found; then a second stage may be present were optimization as form of economizing become predominant, this efficiency comes with a cost: The firm´s righty. This paper is about the importance of the firm´s begging and how to some extent, its origin determines its future.
We argue the case that human social systems and social organizations in particular are concrete, non-metaphorical, cognitive agents operating in their own self-constructed environments. Our point of departure is Luhmann’s theory of social systems as self-organizing systems of communications. Integrating the Luhmannian theory with the enactive theory of cognition and Simondon’s theory of individuation, results in a novel view of social systems as complex, individuating sequences of communicative interactions that together constitute distributed yet distinct cognitive agencies. The relations of such agencies with their respective environments (involving other agencies of the same construction) is further clarified by discussing both the Hayek-Hebb and the perturbation-compensation perspectives on systems adaptiveness as each reveals different and complementary facets of the operation of social systems as loci of cognitive activity. The major theoretical points of the argument are followed and demonstrated by an analysis of NASA’s communications showing how a social organization undergoes a process of individuation from which it emerges as an autonomous cognitive agent with a distinct and adaptive identity. With this example we hope to invite a debate on how the presented approach could inform a transdisciplinary method of cognitive modeling applied to human social systems.
Integrating complex business networks in Tourism is a wicked problem. Many different business owners have various goals and management approaches. A tourist network is often managed through coordination and partnerships because the sheer complexity of trying to be competitive makes little sense when so many businesses have a common goal. In this paper we explore how thinking in network terms in tourist business networks actually sheds light on how to manage wicked problems in general. In particular, we focus on how the network approach to managing complex networks in business may produce leverage points for synthesising managerial tension points between partners and thereby facilitate innovation systems. We argue that the network approach may shed light on how to build platforms for gaining traction and synthesis in wicked problems. We conclude with suggestions for future research.
We live in a world where war rages between nations, where revolution erupts within nations, where global terrorism is the norm, where new forms of conflict are emerging on the internet, and where class struggle is exacerbated by rising levels of income inequality. The very existence of these ongoing problems suggests that we do not have the highly effective theories needed to deal with them. In seeking to improve our theories, previous scholars have claimed that theories with a higher level of structure would be more effective. However, they did not provide a useful measure of that structure. In the present paper, Propositional Analysis (PA) is presented as an emerging methodology for determining the structure of theories with some level of objectivity. Using PA, this article investigates the change in structure of theories of conflict over a century-long span of time. The outcomes of these analyses suggest the need for new standards for creating theory, integrating theories, and choosing theory for research and/or practice. This study shows that our theories are not evolving toward a higher level of structure. Instead, the level is nearly stable. These results suggest a new understanding as to why the field of conflict theory has not increased in relevance and usefulness. And, as a result, suggests new directions for accelerating the improvement of theories of conflict. While this is a small study, it is expected that these results and insights may be generalized to the broader field of sociology.
The analysis of force-fields for managing social change developed by Kurt Lewin, Eric Trist, Fred Emery, and other pioneers in Action Research is used as a guide to explore the role of energy’s force-fields in bring about emergent change regarding people, social groups, and ecology. Action Research uses force-fields as dynamic placeholders to follow the forces influencing people’s interactions develop into emerging organization complexities of social change. The paper charts a course of exploration that follows energy’s force-fields. The exploratory view is through the lens of energy and proceeds along three interlinked paths: 1) Energy: force-fields interacting for change, 2) Complexity: cooperative self-reorganization for change, and 3) Process: Energy’s Work Domains for enacting change. By focusing strictly on energy’s force-fields in action we can see better how change emerges from the processes of energy’s force-fields’ interactions. We can see anew our options for managing social change and develop better ways for us to enact them.
Originating from a concern on the linkage between health policies and immigration policies within healthcare organizations, our goal is to understand how and why healthcare organizations adapt their services to the needs and characteristics of migrant populations. In doing so, we used three angles of analysis: (1) interactions between the stakeholders within an organization viewed as a Complex Adaptive System (CAS), especially between an organization’s various levels of governance; (2) the levers of action implemented by the multiple stakeholders; and (3) the factors that influence the stakeholders. We propose a conceptual model of multilevel adaptive governance able to reconcile two paradoxical adaptation mechanisms: (1) multiple autonomous stakeholders are able to self-organize while acting in a heterogeneous manner; (2) governance allows these heterogeneous actions, through levers of action, to converge toward a more homogeneous collective process.
The clustering phenomenon for inanimate and living systems and the herding effect for living systems are analyzed under the light of physical sciences. The suggested approach derives from the classical mechanics, the variational principle of least action and fluid dynamics theory is used, qualitatively, to enlighten some irrational behavior of financial systems.
It is almost 30 years ago since Richard Dawkins was given credit for introducing the meme as a concept for studying cultural evolution. Despite the growing interest for both evolution and complexity in the social sciences, the highly controversial field of Memetics has been accused for being a fad and a pseudoscience, never able to establish itself as a recognized research program. Some 10 years ago it was even sentenced to death by some academics in the field. This article examines the status of Memetics, and suggests ways to make it grow further as a scientific discipline.
This exposition considers perspectives underpinning contemporary leadership studies given we are located in what Hawking describes as the ‘century of complexity’, also understood as a Knowledge Era. Social complexity as context allows consideration of the turbulence our times without looking for guaranteed, certain, or ‘right’ answers and allows us to work with these conditions, rather than succumb to threat rigidity, pretend they do not exist, or think they are someone else’s problem. To make sense of these conditions requires ontological and cognitive shifts of mindset that more closely match the ‘requisite variety’ of the complexities of our times. The paper draws upon a PhD interpretive inquiry which identified cogent leadership literacies for the 21st century and explored them within Australian university settings. Various cognitive frames feature in this paper and serve to illuminate possibilities for scholars and practitioners seeking fresh approaches for leadership studies for a Knowledge Era. Whilst there are many contemporary scholars already doing so it is also clear that the ontological shifts are not easy and that archaic mindsets are difficult to dislodge even in light of wicked problems like the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 or environmental disasters.
Big History might be considered the study of an evolving, large, complex adaptive system with three very different phases progressing geometrically from the early universe to the present day. A geometrical progression rate would suggest transitions to life evolution beginning at about 5 billion years ago; to brain evolution around 5 million years ago; and further transition to technological civilization development about 5,000 years ago. Characteristic properties of complex adaptive systems include: (1) a resource which drives the level of complexity, such as energy flow; (2) new options at critical nonlinear decision points along development paths tied to levels of energy flow; and (3) continuous logistic learning as the options are explored; (4) scaling of other dimensions besides energy, such as length and time scales of important processes. This paper presents indications that these processes are occurring through historical trends in energy, environment, economics, and organization. The understanding of these phenomena could contribute to our ability to develop and anticipate potential future scenarios with more integrated, systemic, and effective approaches and expectations.
This paper applies systems thinking and emergence theory to present an understanding of sustainability in terms of the human actions and attitudes required for sustainability to emerge. Sustainability is viewed as an emergent quality that occurs when the interactions within the system, and between the system and its environment are nourishing. We suggest this conception is useful because it indicates the kinds of relationships individuals and groups need to engage in as actors; the responsibilities and importance of observers in recognising emergent patterns; and the significance of the relationship between the actor and observer scales. We aim to identify strategies in these three areas that can best facilitate the emergence of sustainability. Emergence theory is found to be a fruitful framework for generating solutions and stimulating new thinking about defining, monitoring, or acting for sustainability.
Complexity scholars have identified two distinct catalysts of emergence: (1) Far-from-equilibrium dynamics that trigger order creation, and (2) adaptive tension (McKelvey, 2004) which can push a system toward instability, leading to the emergence of new order. Each of these provides a necessary but incomplete explanation of the catalyst for emergent order. In particular, the far-from-equilibrium framework, when taken to its logical ends, would conclude that most dynamic and fluid organizations are the ones farthest-from-thermodynamic equilibrium—like Exxon or GM, for example. Adaptive tension on the other hand identifies an exogenous force of market change, but doesn’t explain how emergence is actually triggered. As a solution I propose “Opportunity Tension,” which integrates the endogenous intention of an entrepreneur to create a new venture to the exogenous changes that open up an entrepreneurial opportunity—a market that will exchange money for the value being created. Opportunity tension occurs in “pulses,” each cycle leading to a new dynamic state of the system. This model, which is consonant with the notion of “dynamic creation” (Chiles et al., 2010), contributes to a complexity science that is moves us beyond a far-from-equilibrium framework.
As more scholars join the conversation around complexity theory (CT), it seems a useful time to ask ourselves if we are talking about the “same thing?” This concern is highlighted by the present survey, which finds more conflict than agreement between definitions. In contrast to the conflict, a path toward common ground may be found by applying the idea of a “robust” theory. A robust theory is expected to be more effective in application and more reasonably falsifiable. In this paper, Reflexive Dimensional Analysis (RDA) is used to analyze existing definitions of CT. These definitions are deconstructed, redefined as scalar dimensions, combined, and investigated to identify co-causal relationships. The robustness of CT is identified as 0.56 on a scale of zero to one. Paths for advancing the theory are suggested, with important implications for complexity science.
We analyze four scenarios commonly encountered in social processes undergoing competitive pressures: resource depletion by individuals acting greedily (‘tragedy of the commons’), wasted opportunity due to over protective players (‘tragedy of the anti-commons’), crowd following (‘majority wins’) and competition for niches (‘minority wins’). We show that these scenarios are extremes of a continuous resource exploitation problem and that complex and counter-intuitive behaviors are found at the transitions between ‘pure’ scenarios. We discuss the likely community behaviors and under what conditions a centralised management intervention may play a role in the resource and community resilience.
Even in simple contexts, the dynamical interaction between agents creates complex features. The presence of agents of change affects dramatically the underlying social structure. Some agents seem to be important in shaping the evolution of interactions: traditionally, these agents have been referred to as leaders; nevertheless, recently scholarly interest has been attracted by social entrepreneurs. Do social leaders and social entrepreneurs act differently? Can a social entrepreneurship culture, one that aims for a large number of social entrepreneurs, be welcomed? This paper presents a model of interaction among agents in a community, and sheds light on the catalytic role that some individuals have on the social structure. The results provide some implications about the role of social entrepreneurs and the differences between social entrepreneurship and leadership.
Recognition that the reductionist approach to science leaves great gaps in our understanding has led to the synthesis approach to further explain the world around us. The synthetic approach examines the inter-relationships of individual entities as they interact to create complex networks. This approach spawned the creation of a new science—the study of Complex Systems. This article takes the concepts of Complexity Theory and hypothesizes a process of simple steps iterated many times over that explains the emergence of new entities and the evolution of our Universe. The concept of systems, emergence, iteration and evolution is proposed to explain the process underlying our evolving Universe. This process would be expected to leave fractal patterns in its wake. The fractal patterns are related to the shared tendencies for self-organization found in complex networks. The principles apply to all networks irrespective of their component parts and include both inanimate and living systems.
‘Understood complexity’ is a term of Albert Hirschman (1976) whose economic-political theory of ‘exit’ (‘vote with your feet’) versus ‘voice’ (feedback or use your influence for change) (1970), has often been used to (try to) understand whistleblowing (Alford, 2001; Maclagen, 1998). Real complexity is not linear and cannot be adequately studied an model of ‘A causes B’. Complexity entails ‘A causes B’ in a situation wherein ‘B causes A’. Bateson in his ‘ecology of the mind’ understood the circularity of the hermeneutic of complexity; while Weick did not in his theory of sense-making. I argue in this article, via an examination of a play of Ibsen, that circular thinking spiraling towards new insight(s) is much more a possibility of literature (studies) than of social science. Social complexity theory needs (at least partially) I believe to methodologically merge with literary studies.
This paper qualitatively illustrates how and why interdependence becomes significant in building coherent and sustainable network systems based upon human flourishing. Ethnographic case data of an icon tourism destination is provided to examine the structure, process and patterns that are essential for understanding network organization. The notion of fractals has been applied to more deeply understand the multi-dimensionality of networks. Through the fractal characteristic self-similarity, the data revealed aspects of volume-filling, reciprocity and enfoldment that were central to the transforming power of network organization. Behind the divisible there is always something indivisible. Behind the disputable there is always something indisputable. Chuang-Tzu
In the region of self-organized criticality (SOC) interdependency between multi-agent system components exists and slight changes in near-neighbor interactions can break the balance of equally poised options leading to transitions in system order. In this region, frequency of events of differing magnitudes exhibits a power law distribution. The aim of this paper was to investigate whether a power law distribution characterized attacker-defender interactions in team sports. For this purpose we observed attacker and defender in a dyadic sub-phase of rugby union near the try line. Videogrammetry was used to capture players’ motion over time as player locations were digitized. Power laws were calculated for the rate of change of players’ relative position. Data revealed that three emergent patterns from dyadic system interactions (i.e., try; unsuccessful tackle; effective tackle) displayed a power law distribution. Results suggested that pattern forming dynamics dyads in rugby union exhibited SOC. It was concluded that rugby union dyads evolve in SOC regions suggesting that players’ decisions and actions are governed by local interactions rules.