In this paper, we extend the understanding of human interaction dynamics by examining three case studies of social-action-networks whose purpose was to achieve collective action on a complex social or environmental issue. Our research questions were “How do the organizing mechanisms of fine grained interactions construct emergent order?” and “Why do influencing strategies enable diffuse networks to emerge into discernible collective action?” The studies provided information about the fine-grained interactions as well as the coarse-grained properties that emerged. At the fine-grained level, there was a dynamic tension between structured and formalized organizing mechanisms aimed at organization and those that actively permitted (dis)organization. Network strategic intent was coherent at the coarse-grained level and varied between a clearly defined strategy and strategic ambiguity. We examine these empirical findings in relation to recent literature on constructing forces, strategic ambiguity and interpretive dominance.
This paper argues that sociological and social psychological concepts, through a theory of action perspective, can contribute to defining coarse-grained social structures as multidimensional attractors (Goldstein, Hazy, & Lichtenein, 2010) and fine-grained human interaction dynamics as sources of nonlinear and unanticipated social outcomes. By using Gidden’s (1984) structuration theory to define the dimensions of the coarse-grained social system and applying Stones’s (2005) “strong” structuration theory to the fine-grained social system, we clarify the aspects of human interaction dynamics and their relationship to the coarse-grained social system. The paper concludes with three interrelated conclusions and their implications for understanding the “dynamics” of human interactions.
This paper uses a complex systems perspective to develop a theory of how human interaction dynamics (HID)—strategic decision processes and organizational mechanisms—for knowledge production under uncertainty give rise to a new organizational form. Our theoretical framework is derived from an inductive study of the international expansion of 14 Indian biotechnology and software firms. It suggests that to manage the knowledge production cycle dynamically under uncertainty firms must: (1) use a decision process driven by entrepreneurial aspirations and opportunity seeking; (2) adopt a variety of organizational mechanisms to acquire, exchange and appropriate knowledge. Over time, adopting these mechanisms leads to the emergence of a complex organizational system and a new organizational form—heteromorphic organizational form (H-form). Coupling evolving aspirations with mechanisms associated with H-form organization to manage knowledge production provides new insights into how fine-grained interactions during international expansion give rise to the emergence of coarse-grained properties, regularities and structure.
The goal of this paper is to describe a mind set for those in leadership roles that is needed to succeed in today’s increasingly complex and fast-changing business environments. Over the course of several action research projects in Sweden over the last few years, my colleagues and I have identified what we believe is a distinct mode of thinking, communicating and interacting with others. The Greek word for “flow” is rheo, so I call it: Rheo Leadership. The concept of Rheo Leadership aims to clarify for practitioners how to lead effectively in modern organizations. Successful managers understand and make use of two kinds of structures: those consciously formulated by managers and those that are tacit and emergent within the workgroup. Each of these influences the same three sub-categories of activities: acting, thinking and relating. Within the social context, leaders influence outcomes by thoughtfully and skillfully using three dualities that are inherent within human interaction dynamics: the value creating and discovering activities, the convergent divergence of evolving patterns, and integrated autonomy of individual actors. Effective use of the opposing poles of these dualities to efficaciously channel forward momentum is called “rein control”. The final section describes field experiences from research as well as successful interventions with first line managers in what I call the rheo task for leaders.
This paper proposes an analytical framework for a complexity-informed theoretical approach to human interaction and organizations. In doing so, it addresses the increasing call for better theory supporting the microfoundations of social science. A key premise of the argument is that the primary imperatives of social actors are confronting uncertainty and adapting to change as a collective. As such, in addition to seeking requisite resources, human beings interact to gather and use information for their individual and collective benefit. The paper explores this perspective by proposing a complex systems model of organizing that differs from systems theory by placing the actors inside the system rather than assuming they act on the system. We propose a definition of information that enables us to explore the dynamics of human interaction as observers from the outside without necessarily knowing what the information means. This approach is analogous to how physical and biological systems are studied and is intended to complement, rather than replace existing approaches that tend to place their emphasis on inter-subjectivity and meaning-making rather than on the objective measurement of information as a physically measurable quantity.
Introduction It is quite fitting that Walter Buckley’s paper “Mind, Mead and Mental Behaviorism” has been selected as the classic paper contribution for this special issue of Emergence: Complexity and Organization (E:CO) concerning human interaction dynamics and complex adaptive systems. The paper presents a discussion of the dynamics of fine-grained interactions from the agent’s perspective. […]
One of the tenants for building a healthy economy is the notion of commonwealth, what we share as a community together. Now this notion of commonwealth is more than simply our streets, parks and waterways. It’s also our experience, intelligence, our shared values, our innate wisdom. And while I have written previously about the idea […]