Introduction Risking the claim of redundancy, I find myself again needing to express my amazement at just how rich this issue’s contents have turned out to be. It’s like a buffet for the mind offering wide-ranging ‘dishes’ of complexity approaches across an impressively diverse number of systems. And in each case complexity is used in […]
The biological sciences have contributed an extensive number of studies of efforts to resolve chronic pain and an expanding body of research, focusing on the psycho-social aspects of chronic pain, is now also evident. Paradigms applied to chronic pain appear to compete and lack an integrative framework. This paper builds a case for framing chronic pain within a complex adaptive systems perspective. Characteristics of complex systems are illustrated with examples from within the experience of chronic pain. It is proposed that a complexity science paradigm can serve as a meta-framework, integrating theoretical models employed in chronic pain and reframing dissent and conflict as positive generative forces for change. Interventions, based on complexity science principles, can effect change in the highly interactive systems that constitute the chronic pain experience.
The combined forces of globalization, rapid and unpredictable change, management scandals, and business failures raise questions about the viability of contemporary business organizations. From the perspective of 21st century trends, a paradigm is developed that challenges prevailing notions about how businesses/enterprises are understood, managed, and evaluated. A model that focuses on emergent dynamics and long-term societal benefit is proposed. The sustainable enterprise that utilizes emergent dynamics is contrasted with the conventional organization that hierarchically directs and controls with a focus on the short term. The emergent dynamic increases the innovation, energy, and adaptability of the enterprise, especially in turbulent environments. The sustainable enterprise model systematically supports emergent dynamics and coevolves with the industry and environmental agents toward sustainability.
Introduction Research and technology have been given a new boost in recent years. Basic technologies such as information and communication, material sciences and biotechnology have burst onto the economic and social scene and are now going from strength to strength. The European Union (EU), quick to perceive this trend, has recognized the importance of joint […]
Introduction In an article to appear shortly (McCarthy et al., 2006) the NPD process has been shown to be a complex adaptive system. In earlier articles (Allen & Ebeling, 1983; Allen, 2001; Allen & Strathern, 2005) the theory behind the emergent nature of the innovation and the new product development process has been presented and […]
As complex systems, organizations face the challenge of continuing efficient operations and adapting to a changing environment. This challenge is often framed in the context of strategic leadership: leaders are seen as managing the tension between long- and short-term objectives and between exploration and exploitation. This article looks at how leadership and the actions of leaders relate to these adaptive tensions and how the effectiveness of leadership can be measured in a complexity science context. To do this, leadership is conceptualized as an organizational meta-capability that processes information about the environment and the organization, and then changes the organization by reconfiguring and building new capabilities. The article suggests a family of possible metrics, discusses the complexity of their interactions, and suggests future research to further the field’s understanding of the important question: how individual human actions influence the social systems in which they occur.
This study details the research of three organizations from the perspectives of complexity science and communities of practice. We conducted in-depth interviews with key leaders from three organizations: an organization for nursing leaders, a spiritual and self-development practice of the Jewish faith called Mussar, and an urban co-housing community. Meaningful connections between the interviewees’ stories and 12 comprehensive elements of complex adaptive entities are discussed. From these findings, a relevant similarity dealing with community, specifically communities of practice, emerges, and we subsequently identify key elements of communities of practice among the three entities. The paper concludes with lessons from our research to date as well as recommendations for future research.
This paper focuses on one theme from complexity and new science literature: the theme of boundaries. It responds to requests from complexity theorists to bring organizational perspectives into dialogues about the use of complexity thinking by managers and leaders. The researcher has used phenomenographic analysis to explore published authors’ qualitatively different ways of understanding boundaries. These have been grouped into two major categories, and several subcategories. These authors believed that boundaries deserve attention, and that they can be actively managed for a range of benefits. These ways of understanding are interpreted through a model based on theoretical work by Etienne Wenger. This is the first part of a two-part paper that attempts to strengthen a bridge between theoretical and practical worlds, and to create a space for further research and dialogue.
In the analysis of complex systems there is often an emphasis on the plasticity and adaptability of the system. Coupled with perspectives from chaos theory — like the sensitivity to initial conditions, critical organization, bifurcations, and fractal complexity — this has led to a general understanding of complex systems as something in constant flux and susceptible to rapid change. Although these may indeed be important characteristics of complexity, it has led to descriptions that neglect the stability and the enduring structures necessary for the existence of complex systems. In order for a system to have any identity whatsoever, it cannot merely reflect its environment and the changes therein, it must also resist some of these changes. This is not always recognized in a culture where speed is linked with efficiency, and has become a virtue in itself. This paper argues for a certain “slowness.” It is not necessary to follow every trend in the environment; as a matter of fact it can be detrimental. This has implications for the way in which we interact with each other, and for the way in which we use new technology, especially the technologies for media and communication. Being too “quick” also has implications for our understanding of important notions like integrity and reliability. The way in which complexity theory is used to analyze the contemporary cultural landscape by certain theorists, particularly Mark Taylor, will be criticized. In the process reference will be made to novels by Sten Nadolny and Milan Kundera.
When Jeff Post took over as CEO of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Corporation, the company was losing a billion dollars a year. A lot of things had gone wrong to bring this company to its knees, but benign neglect was at that top of the list. Post began talking to everyone about an audacious plan to […]
The last few decades have witnessed the development of a host of ideas aimed at understanding and predicting nature’s ever present complexity (see for instance, Mandlebrot, 1982; Bak, 1996; Wolfram, 2002). It is shown that such a work provides, through its detailed study of order and disorder, a suitable framework for visualizing the dynamics and consequences of mankind’s ever present divisive traits. Specifically, this work explains how recent universal results pertaining to the transition from order to chaos via a cascade of bifurcations point us to a serene state, symbolized by the convergence to the origin in the root of a Feigenbaum’s tree, in which we all may achieve peace.
Introduction If you have any comments or criticisms of any of the material that appears in E:CO then please send them along to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dear Max: I would like to thank you for your thoughtful review of my new book, Holistic Darwinisn: Synergy, Cybernetics and the Bioeconomics of Evolution, which appeared in issue […]
Introduction In an unassuming manner, no claim is made on the author’s part to be an expert in complexity theory or the research that is underway in the field. Instead, her stated goal is to pull ideas and theories from the mainstream of the new sciences and relate how they might be understood by the […]
Introduction Managing Creativity and Innovation is an almost perfect primer for the classic view of innovation and the role of the manager to influence innovation in this model. The book is organized into eight chapters and, within the paradigm chosen by the anonymous authors, is clear and easy to read Each chapter includes background information, […]
Introduction Resonant Leadership is a very practical book aimed at leaders in all types of organizations. The underlying thesis is that resonant leadership creates the right kind of environment not only for financial success, but also where individuals can be committed, work hard but also have fun. The co-authors cite extensively from multi-disciplinary research and […]
Introduction Ralph Stacey and Douglas Griffin write that Complexity and the Experience of Managing in Public Sector Organizations is for readers looking for practitioner descriptions of real life experiences managing in public sector organizations, rather than “idealized accounts” of the way life should be in public organizations. After two introductory chapters by the editors, five […]
Introduction Observing International Relations takes the recent emphasis on globalization as an opportunity to explore potential links between Niklas Luhmann’s Modern Systems Theory (MST) of “world society” and the international relations (IR) approach. The hope is to provide new perspectives on reoccurring issues of contemporary world society. In the introductory section editor Mathias Albert describes […]