Complexity and Organization
Readings and Conversations
Edited by Robert Macintosh, Donald Maclean, Ralph Stacey, Douglas Griffin
Routledge – 2004 – 312 pages
In the past decade, complexity-based thinking has exerted an increasing, yet somewhat controversial authority over management theory and practice. This has in some part been due to the influence of a number of high-profile articles and the not inconsiderable hype which has accompanied them. Another feature of the subject’s development has been the diversity of the origins of the thinking and the claims which have been made for it in terms of managerial and organizational implications. Complexity and Organization is the first text to bring this thinking together, presenting some of the most influential writing in the field, showing how the subject has developed and how it continues to influence managerial thinking.
Seminal contributions to the field have been brought together in a single accessible volume, allowing readers to access what might otherwise appear a very diverse body of literature. Moreover, the editors, who represent some of the leading thinkers and writers in this field, have combined these readings with a unique commentary, indicating not only the importance of the papers but teasing out the subtle but significant differences and similarities between them. These commentaries take the form of a discussion between the editors, debating the contribution that each paper has made to the field and the influence it has had on management thinking.
'The rumours have been around for a while; there is a new and exciting perspective in the understanding of organizations from complexity theory. But unsurprisingly, complexity is complex. At last we have a book of readings and debate on the subject which is thorough, approachable, and up-to-date.' David Sims, Professor of Organizational Behaviour, Cass Business School, City University, UK
Introduction Section 1: Chaos Theory and Dissipative Structures 1. Chaos Theory and Strategy 2. Conditioned Emergence 3. Surfing the Edge of Chaos 5. The Science of Complexity 6. Leadership and the New Sciences Editors’ Discussion of the Papers in Section 1 Section 2: Categorizing Complexity 7. Evolving Complexity in Social Science 8. Speaking of Complexity in Management Theory and Practice 9. Emergence Editors’ Discussion of the Papers in Section 2 Section 3: Complexity in Social Settings 10. From Complexity Science to Complex Thinking 11. Learning as the Activity of Interdependent People 12. Complex Thinking Editors’ Discussion of the Papers in Section 3. Concluding Remarks
Robert MacIntosh began his academic career as a researcher at the University of Strathclyde and completed his PhD in engineering before moving to a post in the Business School at the University of Glasgow.
Donald MacLean is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. He is a faculty member of the Complexity and Management Centre of the University of Hertfordshire, a member of the faculty of the Institute of Directors in Scotland and an associate of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.
Ralph Stacey is Professor of Management and Director of the Complexity and Management Centre at the Business School of the University of Hertfordshire.
Douglas Griffin is Associate Director of the Complexity and Management Centre at the Business School of the University of Hertfordshire. He is also an independent consultant.