What Causes Changes in Organizations?

Complexity Science and Organization Studies
Miles A. Zachary
 Steve Maguire- McGill University
 Assistant Professor of Strategy and Organization
 Ph.D. at H.E.C.-Montreal (2000)
 Bill McKelvey- UCLA
 Professor of Strategic Organizing and Complexity Science
 Ph.D. at Sloan School of Management, MIT (1967)
 Laurent Mirabeau- McGill University
 Ph.D. candidate and MBA graduate (1997)
 Nail Öztas- Gazi University (Turkey)
 Member of Faculty of Management
 Ph.D. at University of Southern California (2004)
Features of Complex Systems
 Defined as a “whole comprised of a large number of parts, each which behaves according to some rule or force that relates it interactively to other parts.”
 Individual parts can interact with others to produce emergent patterns on the whole
 These emergent patterns could not be predicted from the individual parts
 Interactions
 Material/energetic or informational
 Could be non-linear/highly dependent on initial conditions/interactions

Features of Complex Systems
Features of Complex Systems
 Characterized in two ways:
 A system whose elements may or not be complex themselves
 Systems that characterized by elements being individually dynamic are referred to as complex adaptive systems with each element being “adaptive”
 Complex systems are useful in describing all systems that have features of complex systems

Features of complex systems
 Depending on the perspective, systems can display varying degrees of complexity
 Systems that are highly stable, little can be gained from complexity theory
 Complexity theory focuses on the study of complex systems and their emergent characteristics
European v. north america
 European complexity theory
 Far from equilibrium conditions
 How unorganized systems, subject to the energy their energy source (sustainability), evolve
 “Dissipative Structures” (Prigogine, 1955)- absent of an energy source or access to the external environment,...