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Higher education in management: reinventing the paradigm to gain the capacity to handle today's complexity

Keitiline Ramos Viacava (Associated with Organizations Study Group (GESTOR), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil, and the Center for Health Sciences – Psychology, University of the Sinos Valley (UNISINOS), São Leopoldo, Brazil)
Eugenio Avila Pedrozo (Associated with Management School (EA) ‐ Post Graduate Program in Management (PPGA); Center for Agribusiness Studies and Research (CEPAN); Organizations Study Group (GESTOR), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 2 February 2010




The purpose of this paper is to highlight how methodological and educational construction in the realm of higher education in management – which aims to meet the demands of current problems – depends on the recognition of open systems' dynamic complexity at their multiple levels, on the interdependence between ecosphere or ecosystem Earth and organizations and individuals, as well as on the integration of the neurocerebral system (as a complex unit of the whole) based on adaptive decision making as a feature that emerges from the system.


Having complexity as a background, this paper is based on post‐normal science and interdisciplinary practices to discuss the following points in an interrelated and non‐linear way: multidimensional organizations, decisions and strategies, teaching of strategic skills oriented towards adaptive decision making, metacognitive development and emotion/motivation.


The adaptive decision perspective adopted by post‐normal science encourages the incorporation of human characteristics and potentialities that are currently neglected in management sciences. Such characteristics and potentialities mean evolving from an understanding of the human mind as an automatic data processor to a logic that allows us to consider the interaction between emotion and cognition as well as between these two and their environment, thus connecting individual‐organization‐society. This paper suggests that teaching/learning strategic skills oriented to adaptive decision making depends on educators and students' metacognitive development and on identifying social and environmental conditions that are capable of promoting the emotional/motivational balance needed for such expression.

Research limitations/implications

There is no empirical proof.


Management studies have been oversimplified by a pragmatic and deterministic orientation. This paper is a contribution to higher education management educators who wish to focus on new elements in these studies, thus preparing management students to act with more awareness and flexibility in an organizational environment that is increasingly complex and ever changing. This environment is beginning to be guided by competitiveness and sustainability in a dialogical way, thus creating complex relations between individuals‐organizations‐society.



Ramos Viacava, K. and Avila Pedrozo, E. (2010), "Higher education in management: reinventing the paradigm to gain the capacity to handle today's complexity", On the Horizon, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 45-52.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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