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.
This paper contributes a theoretical framework for generative leadership, a form of leadership that creates a context to stimulate innovation in complex systems. Our framework links theories of leadership with perspectives on innovation and complex systems to suggest that generative leadership involves balancing connectivity and interaction among individuals and groups in complex systems by managing complexity and institutionalizing innovation. By focusing on how generative leaders create conditions that nurture innovation rather than individual traits or creativity, our framework provides new directions for leadership research and policy implications for managers.