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Article

Drew Wollin and Chad Perry

This article explores how complexity theory can help marketers to understand a market and to operate within it. Essentially, it argues that complexity theory has the…

Abstract

This article explores how complexity theory can help marketers to understand a market and to operate within it. Essentially, it argues that complexity theory has the potential to provide both global and some local explanations of markets and is complementary to local theories like relationship marketing that may be more familiar to marketing managers. It establishes four types of complex systems that might be used to model social systems. Of these four types, complex adaptive systems seem most appropriate to describe markets. This is illustrated in an investigation of Honda in the global automobile industry. Implications for marketing managers centre on the need to understand feedback loops at many levels of a path‐dependent system that are inherently difficult to predict and control.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 38 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article

Maurice Yolles

Complex systems adapt to survive, but little comparative literature exists on various approaches. Adaptive complex systems are generic, this referring to propositions…

Abstract

Purpose

Complex systems adapt to survive, but little comparative literature exists on various approaches. Adaptive complex systems are generic, this referring to propositions concerning their bounded instability, adaptability and viability. Two classes of adaptive complex system theories exist: hard and soft. Hard complexity theories include Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and Viability Theory, and softer theories, which we refer to as Viable Systems Theories (VSTs), that include Management Cybernetics at one extreme and Humanism at the other. This paper has a dual purpose distributed across two parts. In Part 1, the purpose of this paper is to identify the conditions for the complementarity of the two classes of theory. In Part 2, the purpose is to explore (in part using Agency Theory) the two classes of theory and their proposed complexity continuum.

Design/methodology/approach

A detailed analysis of the literature permits a distinction between hard and softer approaches towards modelling complex social systems. Hard theories are human-incommensurable, while soft ones are human-commensurable, therefore more closely related to the human condition. The characteristics that differentiate between hard and soft approaches are identified.

Findings

Hard theories are more restrictive than the softer theories. The latter can embrace degrees of “softness” and it is explained how hard and soft approaches can be mixed, sometimes creating Harmony.

Originality/value

There are very few explorations of the relationship between hard and soft approaches to complexity theory, and even fewer that draw in the notion of harmony.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 48 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Book part

Thomas J. McQuade

Purpose – First, to look closely and critically at Hayek's treatment of science in The Sensory Order. This provides hints as to the difficulties in maintaining a theory of…

Abstract

Purpose – First, to look closely and critically at Hayek's treatment of science in The Sensory Order. This provides hints as to the difficulties in maintaining a theory of scientific knowledge as a selective sum of the identifiable contributions of individual scientists. Second, to generalize from Hayek's theory of how the brain generates an individual's knowledge to a theory of how science generates scientific knowledge, knowledge that is not a simple sum of individual contributions. Third, to apply this picture of science to understanding developments in postpositivist philosophy and post-Mertonian sociology of science.

Approach – We provide a short survey of the conventional understanding of science and scientific knowledge, including that of Hayek in The Sensory Order. We examine in more depth the ways in which developments in postpositivist philosophy and sociology have transformed our understanding of science. We describe how, by analogy with Hayek's theory of the brain, science can be seen as an adaptive system that adjusts to its environment by classifying the phenomena in that environment to which it is sensitive, and we apply this systemic picture of science with a view to integrating much of the more moderate content of recent philosophy and sociology of science.

Details

The Social Science of Hayek's ‘The Sensory Order’
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-975-6

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Article

Maurice Yolles

Complex systems adapt to survive, but little comparative literature exists on various approaches. Adaptive complex systems are generic, this referring to propositions…

Abstract

Purpose

Complex systems adapt to survive, but little comparative literature exists on various approaches. Adaptive complex systems are generic, this referring to propositions concerning their bounded instability, adaptability and viability. Two classes of adaptive complex system theories exist: hard and soft. Hard complexity theories include Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and Viability Theory, and softer theories, which we refer to as Viable Systems Theories (VSTs), that includes Management Cybernetics at one extreme and Humanism at the other. This paper has a dual purpose distributed across two parts. In part 1 the purpose was to identify the conditions for the complementarity of the two classes of theory. In part 2 the two the purpose is to explore (in part using Agency Theory) the two classes of theory and their proposed complexity continuum.

Design/methodology/approach

Explanation is provided for the anticipation of behaviour cross-disciplinary fields of theory dealing with adaptive complex systems. A comparative exploration of the theories is undertaken to elicit concepts relevant to a complexity continuum. These explain how agency behaviour can be anticipated under uncertainty. Also included is a philosophical exploration of the complexity continuum, expressing it in terms of a graduated set of philosophical positions that are differentiated in terms of objects and subjects. These are then related to hard and softer theories in the continuum. Agency theory is then introduced as a framework able to comparatively connect the theories on this continuum, from theories of complexity to viable system theories, and how harmony theories can develop.

Findings

Anticipation is explained in terms of an agency’s meso-space occupied by a regulatory framework, and it is shown that hard and softer theory are equivalent in this. From a philosophical perspective, the hard-soft continuum is definable in terms of objectivity and subjectivity, but there are equivalences to the external and internal worlds of an agency. A fifth philosophical position of critical realism is shown to be representative of harmony theory in which internal and external worlds can be related. Agency theory is also shown to be able to operate as a harmony paradigm, as it can explore external behaviour of an agent using a hard theory perspective together with an agent’s internal cultural and cognitive-affect causes.

Originality/value

There are very few comparative explorations of the relationship between hard and soft approaches in the field of complexity and even fewer that draw in the notion of harmony. There is also little pragmatic illustration of a harmony paradigm in action within the context of complexity.

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Article

Karma Sherif

This article proposes an adaptive strategy for managing knowledge in complex organizations. Specifically, this article aims to extend understanding in the field of

Abstract

Purpose

This article proposes an adaptive strategy for managing knowledge in complex organizations. Specifically, this article aims to extend understanding in the field of knowledge management (KM) by examining how an adaptive strategy for managing knowledge can help organizations become innovative and build dynamic capabilities.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature on complexity theory and KM is reviewed to propose the development of an adaptive strategy that will assist organization in managing knowledge and becoming innovative. The paper is structured around the following constructs: complexity theory, complex adaptive systems, and KM.

Findings

A link between an adaptive strategy for managing knowledge, innovation and dynamic capability is established. The central proposition of the article is the organizations that follow adaptive complex processes for managing knowledge are better able to compete in the market today.

Research limitations/implications

This article extends prior research on KM by proposing complexity theory as a framework for establishing adaptive strategies for managing knowledge and fostering innovation.

Practical implications

With the dramatic environmental changes and fierce competition that organizations are faced with today, managing knowledge becomes critical for driving creativity and adapting to changing markets. Organizations lack direction on how best to develop an adaptive strategy for managing knowledge. The revelation of adaptive processes for managing knowledge in complex systems can lead to more effective KM practices and a higher rate of creativity and flexibility.

Originality/value

The study answers recent calls for defining processes for the second generation of KM that shift focus from the codification and transfer of knowledge to the creation of new knowledge. Although previous studies have established a link between complex adaptive systems and KM, this study takes it one step further in defining an integrative strategy for the creation of knowledge based on the processes of complex adaptive systems. The paper provides a foundation for future studies to test the causal relationship between adaptive processes for knowledge creation and innovation.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article

Xi Chen and Shuming Zhao

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the evaluation model of the enterprises' technological innovation system, based on the theory of complex adaptive system.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the evaluation model of the enterprises' technological innovation system, based on the theory of complex adaptive system.

Design/methodology/approach

Combined with the status quo and recent studies of Chinese enterprises' technological innovation, the paper discusses the complex‐system features of the technological innovation. The stimulus‐response model is used to establish the two‐level framework for enterprises' technological innovation system. By means of the adaptive fitness function, the economic and social utility of enterprises' technological innovation is measured from two dimensions. Finally, the fuzzy catastrophe model is introduced to evaluate the enterprises' technological innovation.

Findings

The enterprises' technological innovation system has attributions of the subject aggregation, the systematic openness, nonlinearity and diversity. Thus, the macro‐micro based technological innovation system from the perspective of complex adaptive system is proposed. The system utility is considered based on the system subjects and system structure, and the calculation framework of the adaptive fitness for the whole system is obtained by considering the emergent property describing the system scale effect and structure effect. In fact, the fuzzy theory can well reflect the influential situation that the interactions between different factors may cause the mutation of the higher level and the interactions between enterprises can lead to the shifts of the system.

Originality/value

The paper proposes the complex adaptive system for the enterprises' technological innovation based on the special macro environment in China. A new framework for the research of technological innovation is provided by analyzing the system inner model. Fuzzy catastrophe model can reduce the evaluation irrationality due to the subjective index weights.

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Article

George H. Kubik

To review the edited anthology Anticipatory Behavior in Adaptive Learning Systems: Foundations, Theories, and Systems.

Abstract

Purpose

To review the edited anthology Anticipatory Behavior in Adaptive Learning Systems: Foundations, Theories, and Systems.

Design/methodology/approach

Comments on the book's 16 articles that rapidly transition from introductory philosophy to specific research reports.

Findings

The consensus is that anticipatory behaviors are critical to performance in a variety of natural and built systems – especially adaptive learning systems. This outcome, with some disagreement among the authors, is demonstrated through a variety of exemplars.

Originality/value

The reviewer feels that this book is of seminal importance. The exploration of anticipatory behaviors as a legitimate and promising area of informed discourse and scientific research is novel and definitely a major contribution toward understanding and enhancing the performance of complex systems.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

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Article

Chunyu Wilson and Bernard Scott

The purpose of this paper is to review the use of adaptive systems in education. It is intended to be a useful introduction for the non-specialist reader.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the use of adaptive systems in education. It is intended to be a useful introduction for the non-specialist reader.

Design/methodology/approach

A distinction is made between intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs) and adaptive hypermedia systems (AHSs). The two kinds of system are defined, compared and contrasted. Examples of the implementation of the two kinds of system are included.

Findings

Similarities and differences between the two kinds of system are highlighted. A conceptual unification is proposed based on the architecture of Course Assembly System and Tutorial Environment, a seminal prototype learning environment developed by Pask and Scott in the 1970s as an application of Pask’s conversation theory.

Originality/value

The architecture shows how the key aspects of ITSs and AHSs can be combined to complement each other. It is intended to be an original contribution that is of particular interest for the specialist reader.

Details

The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-4880

Keywords

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Article

Rob Roggema, Pavel Kabat and Andy van den Dobbelsteen

The purpose of this paper is to build a bridge between climate change adaptation and spatial planning and design. It aims to develop a spatial planning framework in which…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to build a bridge between climate change adaptation and spatial planning and design. It aims to develop a spatial planning framework in which the properties of climate adaptation and spatial planning are unified.

Design/methodology/approach

Adaptive and dynamical approaches in spatial planning literature are studied and climate adaptation properties are defined in a way they can be used in a spatial planning framework. The climate adaptation properties and spatial planning features are aggregated in coherent groups and used to construct the spatial planning framework, which subsequently has been tested to design a climate adaptive region.

Findings

The paper concludes that the majority of spatial planning methods do not include adaptive or dynamic strategies derived from complex adaptive systems theory, such as adaptive capacity or vulnerability. If these complex adaptive systems properties are spatially defined and aggregated in a coherent set of spatial groups, they can form a spatial planning framework for climate adaptation. Each of these groups has a specific time dimension and can be linked to a specific spatial planning “layer”. The set of (five) layers form the spatial planning framework, which can be used as a methodology to design a climate adaptive region.

Originality/value

Previous research did not connect the complex issue of climate change with spatial planning. Many frameworks are developed in climate change research but are generally not aiming to meet the needs of spatial planning. This article forms the first attempt to develop a spatial planning framework, in which non‐linear and dynamical processes, such as climate adaptation, is included.

Details

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6099

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Article

Helmut Nechansky

The purpose of this paper is to investigate necessary cybernetic structures that allow complex adaptive systems to develop system‐specific behavior.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate necessary cybernetic structures that allow complex adaptive systems to develop system‐specific behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

Following Holland's concept of “adaptive agents”, it is argued that the development of system‐specific forms of goal‐oriented behavior requires a decision to deviate from some default behavior and to trigger any new one, and a mechanism to evaluate the goal‐orientation of this new behavior. Using a functional approach cybernetic structures are developed that are able to carry out these two tasks. Then these structures are added as subsystems to the structure of a simple one‐level adaptive system.

Findings

The paper finds that a hierarchical adaptive system can recognize with a higher level controller, if lower level decisions lead to an insufficient degree of goal‐approximation and can use preprogrammed higher level decisions to intervene on the lower level to trigger new system‐specific actions. An additional controller can evaluate the “success” achieved with these new actions and can select the “best” actions found, i.e. the behavior leading to the highest degree of goal‐approximation.

Practical implications

The paper shows necessary cybernetic structures that are seen as core of all complex adaptive systems able to develop system‐specific behavior. It is suggested that the underlying basic concept of “success” understood as a degree of goal‐approximation holds for any adaptive, learning or otherwise improving endeavor.

Originality/value

The paper is the second in a series of three on a cybernetic theory distinguishing system capable of preprogrammed adaptation, system‐specific adaptation, and learning. It shows necessary cybernetic structures that a system can develop individual actions.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 39 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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