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Rethinking organizational performance management: a complexity theory perspective

Andrey Pavlov (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Bedford, UK)
Pietro Micheli (Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 26 December 2022




Traditional approaches to organizational performance management that emphasize objectivity, control and predictability are rapidly losing relevance in an environment characterized by increasing levels of complexity and dynamism. This paper draws on complexity theory to suggest a new paradigm for managing performance in organizations.


The paper draws on the common features of complex systems and the corresponding concept of emergence to revisit key themes in organizational performance management and propose a set of implications for research and practice.


Understanding organizations as complex systems and performance as an emergent property of such systems leads to a set of new research questions, the adoption of alternative methods and the formulation of novel propositions. It also has various implications for both academic research and managerial practice, from moving away from the traditional notion of organizational alignment to adopting a more explicit stakeholder-based view in the design and use of measurement systems.


The paper highlights the great potential of complexity theory for addressing contemporary issues in the field of organizational performance management and charting the landscape for its future development.



The authors would like to thank Andrea Bellisario, Jean Boulton, Cliff Bowman, Frederik Dahlmann, Ibrat Djabbarov as well as the Editor-in-Chief in charge of this paper and three anonymous reviewers for the comments on earlier versions of this article.


Pavlov, A. and Micheli, P. (2022), "Rethinking organizational performance management: a complexity theory perspective", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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