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Article
Publication date: 26 April 2019

Pedro Pablo Cardoso Castro and Angela Espinosa

The purpose of this is to explore the potential of the combined use of the viable system model (VSM) and social network analysis (SNA) to identify organizational pathologies.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this is to explore the potential of the combined use of the viable system model (VSM) and social network analysis (SNA) to identify organizational pathologies.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a well-documented case study based on an academic consultancy intervention and Action Research Project, participative methods for the diagnostic of the VSM and questionnaires for the collection of connectivity data for the SNA were used to develop a heuristic to integrate these two tools and identify organizational pathologies.

Findings

This study provides empirical evidence of the benefits of the combined use of SNA to enhance the identification of organizational pathologies in VSM interventions, by providing an additional qualitative and quantitative framework for the interpretation of findings coming from VSM organizational diagnostics.

Research limitations/implications

This work explores some analytic routines of SNA frequently used in management. The validation is constrained to the nature of the data set from a case study. The document invites to a discussion of further and more advanced applications on the integration of the VSM and SNA.

Practical implications

The enhanced identification of organizational pathologies can contribute to the emerging new interest in applications of the VSM in management, providing robustness to the structural analysis of organizations.

Originality/value

This paper proposes a guideline to exploit the potential of the combined use of SNA and VSM. It opens new avenues for the study of organizational pathologies.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 49 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2015

Angela Espinosa

While there is some agreement on the usefulness of systems and complexity approaches to tackle the sustainability challenges facing the organisations and governments in…

Abstract

Purpose

While there is some agreement on the usefulness of systems and complexity approaches to tackle the sustainability challenges facing the organisations and governments in the twenty-first century, less is clear regarding the way such approaches can inspire new ways of governance for sustainability. The purpose of this paper is to progress ongoing research using the Viable System Model (VSM) as a meta-language to facilitate long-term sustainability in business, communities and societies, using the “Methodology to support self-transformation”, by focusing on ways of learning about governance for sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

It summarises core self-governance challenges for long-term sustainability, and the organisational capabilities required to face them, at the “Framework for Assessing Sustainable Governance”. This tool is then used to analyse capabilities for governance for sustainability at three real situations where the mentioned Methodology inspired bottom up processes of self-organisation. It analyses the transformations decided from each organisation, in terms of capabilities for sustainable governance, using the suggested Framework.

Findings

Core technical lessons learned from using the framework are discussed, include the usefulness of using a unified language and tool when studying governance for sustainability in differing types and scales of case study organisations.

Research limitations/implications

As with other exploratory research, it reckons the convenience for further development and testing of the proposed tools to improve their reliability and robustness.

Practical implications

A final conclusion suggests that the suggested tools offer a useful heuristic path to learn about governance for sustainability, from a VSM perspective; the learning from each organisational self-transformation regarding governance for sustainability is insightful for policy and strategy design and evaluation; in particular the possibility of comparing situations from different scales and types of organisations.

Originality/value

There is very little coherence in the governance literature and the field of governance for sustainability is an emerging field. This piece of exploratory research is valuable as it presents an effective tool to learn about governance for sustainability, based in the “Methodology for Self-Transformation”; and offers reflexions on applications of the methodology and the tool, that contribute to clarify the meaning of governance for sustainability in practice, in organisations from different scales and types.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 44 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 4 March 2021

Jennifer A. Espinosa, James Stock, David J. Ortinau and Lisa Monahan

The authors explore complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory as an updated theoretical perspective for managing product returns that better matches the chaotic nature of…

Abstract

Purpose

The authors explore complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory as an updated theoretical perspective for managing product returns that better matches the chaotic nature of recent consumer behaviors. CAS theory highlights the importance of agents who create and self-organize to help systems adapt in unpredictable environments.

Design/methodology/approach

This research utilizes data collected from return managers in an online survey and applies regression analyses to estimate the influence of the focal variables.

Findings

Empirical evidence of the firm flexibility–firm adaptability link is established, and return processor creativity positively relates to this link. The firm flexibility–firm adaptability link fully mediates the relationship between return processor creativity and returns management performance and partially mediates the relationship between return processor creativity and relationship quality. Nonmediated effects were observed for turnover and revenue size.

Practical implications

Managers of returns who embrace an adaptability approach become facilitators of returns by supporting processor creativity. Enhancing the autonomy of processors in their day-to-day work increases the knowledge-creation capabilities of the firm, which helps the firm move forward and adapt in an uncertain environment.

Originality/value

This research presents empirical evidence of the underlying mechanisms of CAS theory in the product returns context by studying processor agents and argues that CAS theory better fits the current dynamics of the product returns environment. Further, this paper extends work by Espinosa et al. (2019) and Nilsson (2019) by studying how a specific human characteristic – creativity – impacts product returns management.

Details

The International Journal of Logistics Management, vol. 32 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-4093

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Article
Publication date: 11 January 2011

A. Espinosa and T. Porter

The purpose of this research is to explore core contributions from two different approaches to complexity management in organisations aiming to improve their…

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5969

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to explore core contributions from two different approaches to complexity management in organisations aiming to improve their sustainability,: the Viable Systems Model (VSM), and the Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS). It is proposed to perform this by summarising the main insights each approach offers to understanding organisational transformations aiming to improve sustainability; and by presenting examples of applied research on each case and reflecting on the learning emerging from them.

Design/methodology/approach

An action science approach was followed: the conceptual framework used in each case was first presented, which then illustrates its application through a case study; at the first one the VSM framework supports an organisational transformation towards sustainability in a community; the second one is a quantitative case study of intended greening of two firms in the supermarket industry, taken from a CAS perspective. The learning from each case study on how they support/explain organisational learning in transformations towards more sustainable organisations was illustrated.

Findings

It wase found that the VSM and the CAS approaches offer internally consistent and complementary insights to address issues of self‐organisation and adaptive management for sustainability improvement: while CAS explains empowerment of bottom‐up learning processes in organisations, VSM enables a learning context where self‐organised networks can co‐evolve for improved sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

The main aspects of both theories and examples of their explanatory power to support learning in practical applications in organisations were introduced. The initial findings indicate that it will be worth studying in greater depth the contributions to organisational learning from both conceptual models and more widely comparing their applications and insights.

Practical implications

The paper offers some guidance to both researchers and practitioners interested in using complex systems theories in action research‐oriented projects, regarding the usability and applicability of both approaches.

Originality/value

It is considered that, by better understanding organisational ability to adapt and self‐regulate on crucial issues for sustainability, it may help to develop one path through the ongoing socio‐ecological crisis. While much has been written about sustainability initiatives and governance from conventional perspectives, much less is known about how a complex systems framework may help to address one's pressing sustainability needs. These issues from two innovative complexity approaches as well as the value of using them in action research were illustrated.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Book part
Publication date: 2 January 2013

Wendy Cavendish and Anabel Espinosa

This chapter examines best practice and burgeoning needs within general and special education teacher preparation programs as identified within the literature and as…

Abstract

This chapter examines best practice and burgeoning needs within general and special education teacher preparation programs as identified within the literature and as evidenced in recent research (Cavendish, Harry, Menda, Espinosa, & Mahotiere, 2012) that examined the beliefs and practices of current educators teaching within schools utilizing a response to intervention (RtI) model. Specifically, our discussion of the emerging needs in teacher preparation programs that prepare both general and special education teachers for assessment, instructional delivery, and progress monitoring within an RtI framework is informed by a 3-year research project of the initial implementation of an RtI model in a diverse, urban school district. Implications for practice include the need to: (a) address deficit perspectives of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students and youth with disabilities, (b) address changing perceptions of the function of special education, and (c) communicate the need for greater collaboration across silos within teacher preparation programs.

Details

Learning Disabilities: Practice Concerns And Students With LD
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-428-2

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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2011

A. Espinosa, P.P. Cardoso, E. Arcaute and K. Christensen

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on results of recent research about the self‐organisation (SO) of communities that aim to regenerate and/or improve their…

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1473

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on results of recent research about the self‐organisation (SO) of communities that aim to regenerate and/or improve their sustainability, also to reflect upon methodological and epistemological issues related to the application of complexity approaches to support SO in communities and in general, social enterprises.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper summarises recent research findings on SO and self‐transformation in communities using a combination of complexity approaches. It describes the methodological framework used to conduct action research about the self‐transformation and learning of a European eco‐community and reflects about the approaches used and lessons learned.

Findings

This research confirms the complementarity between two approaches to complexity management: the viable systems model from S. Beer, a pioneering approach to managing complexity in institutions, and complex adaptive systems, a more recent approach to deal with SO in organisations. Mapping the organisational dynamics and the structural changes decided by the community members shows interesting insights about emergence and SO. This is a state‐of‐the‐art research on multi‐methodological approaches to support complexity management in organisations.

Originality/value

As in many action research projects, early findings are limited to one particular organisation. Nevertheless, the theoretical frameworks of the broader research are useful for a wide variety of organisations, both in terms of guiding organisational transformations and supporting networking management of networks collaborating to create more sustainable evolutionary pathways.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 40 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

A. Espinosa

To explore the usefulness of the cybernetic approach to support development programs by offering a theoretical framework that helps us to re‐understand development and…

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1215

Abstract

Purpose

To explore the usefulness of the cybernetic approach to support development programs by offering a theoretical framework that helps us to re‐understand development and measuring systems.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a summary of Beer's theory for organisational development and measuring systems, shows examples of application in design and implementation of socio‐economic development programs in Colombia, and uses them to explore the usefulness of the approach in this field.

Findings

Analysis of the reported examples shows a clear indication of the usefulness of Beer's approach to design and measure development programs. It reveals an important field for applied research that could benefit from further applications of the approach.

Research limitations/implications

The experiences analysed here showed the strength or alliances between government, universities and development agencies, for applied research. It makes clear that more long‐term oriented projects are required to fully implement innovative approaches like the one described.

Practical implications

Applying a cybernetic approach in this field implies changing from top‐down to bottom‐up design; wider involvement of stakeholders to agree on critical measurements; changes from emphasis in technological and managerial improvements, to improvements in learning and self‐control tools for the developing communities.

Originality/value

Even if there has been agreement on the convenience of experimenting with more holistic approaches to socio‐economic development, few researchers show the potential of the cybernetic approach, as this paper does.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 35 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

A. Espinosa and A. Leonard

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729

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 35 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Book part
Publication date: 29 August 2018

Jean-Christian Tisserand

This chapter focuses on dispute resolution in French labor courts. We empirically investigate the forces that shape decision-making in the pretrial conciliation phase. For…

Abstract

This chapter focuses on dispute resolution in French labor courts. We empirically investigate the forces that shape decision-making in the pretrial conciliation phase. For that purpose, we compiled a new database from legal documents. The results are twofold. First, conciliation is less likely when plaintiffs are assisted by a lawyer. Although this result might be interpreted in various ways, further analysis shows that the lawyers’ remuneration scheme is the most likely cause of this effect. Second, we find that the likelihood of settlement decreases as the amount at stake increases. These results contribute to the ongoing debate about French labor court reform.

Details

Healthcare Antitrust, Settlements, and the Federal Trade Commission
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-599-9

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Article
Publication date: 17 April 2007

A. Espinosa, R. Harnden and J. Walker

This paper aims to contribute to current research on complexity management by re‐visiting Beer's paradigm on control and self‐organization and explaining its usefulness to…

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2603

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to contribute to current research on complexity management by re‐visiting Beer's paradigm on control and self‐organization and explaining its usefulness to support non‐hierarchical organizations and networks and its complementarities to new development in complexity sciences.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explains the current crisis of hierarchical structures and then summarises new proposals on non‐hierarchical organizations from the perspective of complexity sciences. It then summarises Beer's provenance of control and, in particular, the ideas of requisite variety and meta‐systemic management. It explains how these ideas transform the way of approaching management and presents examples of real‐life businesses transformed by following this approach.

Findings

The analysis highlights limitations in current management theory and practice that can be overcome by embracing the paradigm of control suggested by some of the pioneer cybernetitians. It shows that the model has unprecedented powers to describe and analyse the network characteristics of contemporary social organizations from the perspective of effective management and lays down a new and democratic paradigm of control.

Research limitations/implications

This paper concentrates on explaining the main arguments of meta‐systemic management suggested originally by Beer and exploring its implications for managing complex networked organizations; more applied research would be convenient to experiment the suggested model.

Originality/value

This study hopefully has shown that core ideas from the tradition of cybernetics add diagnostic and design power to the other tools of complexity management, giving rise to new insights into how learning, networked structures can be brought to reality.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 36 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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