To read this content please select one of the options below:

An overview of intentional change from a complexity perspective

Richard E. Boyatzis (Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 1 August 2006




Change, and in particular intentional or desired change, has not been understood nor systematically studied. By applying concepts from complexity theory to intentional change theory, the purpose of this paper is to provide a new level of insight into why and how sustainable desired change can occur at all levels of human/social interaction, from individual to teams to organizations to communities, countries and the globe.


Using research from over 30 years of longitudinal studies of individual and organizational change, the concepts are explored and implications proposed.


Sustainable, intentional change is on the whole discontinuous. It occurs through a series of five discoveries or emergence conditions. It is driven by the interplay of the positive and negative emotional attractor. It follows the described process at all fractals of human organization.

Research limitations/implications

Extensive empirical research has been done at the individual level, but only case studies at the organization and country levels.

Practical implications

Every person seeking to explore, understand, or facilitate sustainable, desired change can be helped by the model and understanding how it functions.


The theory of intentional change is relatively new to the literature, as is the use of complexity theory.



Boyatzis, R.E. (2006), "An overview of intentional change from a complexity perspective", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 25 No. 7, pp. 607-623.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles