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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2004

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…

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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.

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

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2006

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

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4473

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
Publication date: 16 March 2010

Helmut Nechansky

The purpose of this paper is to investigate different cybernetic structures of simple adaptive systems and their cognitive and behavioral options.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate different cybernetic structures of simple adaptive systems and their cognitive and behavioral options.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a functional approach, two basic forms of adaptive systems are constructed, which process data on one level respectively two hierarchical levels. Based on that complex combinations of such one‐level and hierarchical structures are investigated.

Findings

It is shown how different cybernetic structures enable simple forms of adaptive behavior. A basic blueprint for the controller structure of animal species is derived from them, with a simple “brain” and a unit for “motion control” as subsystems. Four paths of evolutionary growth are identified that allow a widely independent development of these subsystems.

Practical implications

The paper provides a typology of simple adaptive systems and discusses the forms of behavior they can develop with preprogrammed – i.e. evolutionary given or technically programmed – decision‐rules. It discusses the requirements that these decision‐rules can form models enabling adaptive behavior. It is suggested that these requirements hold for the models of more complex adaptive systems, too.

Originality/value

This paper is the first in a series of three on a cybernetic theory distinguishing systems able of preprogrammed adaptation, system‐specific adaptation, and learning.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 39 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 17 March 2021

Ibrahim Yitmen, Amjad Al-Musaed and Fikri Yücelgazi

Decisions taken during the early design of adaptive façades involving kinetic, active and responsive envelope for complex commercial buildings have a substantial effect on…

Abstract

Purpose

Decisions taken during the early design of adaptive façades involving kinetic, active and responsive envelope for complex commercial buildings have a substantial effect on inclusive building functioning and the comfort level of inhabitants. This study aims to present the application of an analytic network process (ANP) model indicating the order of priority for high performance criteria that must be taken into account in the assessment of the performance of adaptive façade systems for complex commercial buildings.

Design/methodology/approach

The nominal group technique (NGT) stimulating and refining group judgments are used to find and categorize relevant high performance attributes of the adaptive façade systems and their relative pair-wise significance scores. An ANP model is applied to prioritize these high performance objectives and criteria for the adaptive façade systems.

Findings

Embodied energy and CO2 emission, sustainability, energy saving, daylight and operation maintenance were as the most likely and crucial high performance criteria. The criteria and the weights presented in this study could be used as guidelines for evaluating the performance of adaptive façade systems for commercial buildings in planning and design phases.

Practical implications

This research primarily provides the required actions and evaluations for design managers in accomplishing a high performance adaptive façade system, with the support of an ANP method. Before beginning the adaptive façade system of a building design process, the design manager must determine the significance of each of these attributes as high performance primacies will affect the results all through the entire design process.

Originality/value

In this research, a relatively innovative, systematic and practical approach is proposed to sustain the decision-making procedure for evaluation of the high performance criteria of adaptive façade systems in complex commercial buildings.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 8 September 2021

Amanda L. Lizier

This paper aims to draw on data from a study of professionals’ experiences of work and learning framed by a complex adaptive systems approach to examine the nexus of work…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to draw on data from a study of professionals’ experiences of work and learning framed by a complex adaptive systems approach to examine the nexus of work and learning in complex adaptive organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The study used an adapted phenomenographic approach and the complex adaptive systems conceptual framework (CAOCF) to analyse data from semi-structured interviews with fourteen professionals from a variety of organisations and industry sectors within Sydney, Australia.

Findings

The findings highlight that work in complex adaptive organisations is best described as fluid work. Further, the findings suggest that fluid work influences professionals towards flexible learning approaches that take place in the flow of work.

Originality/value

This paper empirically demonstrates the nexus of work and learning as experienced by professionals in their day-to-day work, as well as the ways in which fluid work influences flexible and adaptable learning through participation in work.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 11 September 2017

Amanda Louise Lizier

The purpose of this paper is to outline an empirical study of how professionals experience work and learning in complex adaptive organisations. The study uses a complex

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1091

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to outline an empirical study of how professionals experience work and learning in complex adaptive organisations. The study uses a complex adaptive systems approach, which forms the basis of a specifically developed conceptual framework for explaining professionals’ experiences of work and learning.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 professionals from a variety of organisations, industry sectors and occupations in Sydney, Australia. The transcripts were subjected to an adapted phenomenographic analysis, and an analysis using the complex adaptive organisations conceptual framework (CAOCF).

Findings

The findings indicated that professionals experienced learning mainly through work, where work was experienced as fluid and influenced by varying degrees of emergence, agency, complex social networks and adaptation. Further, the greater the degree of work fluidity, the greater the impetus towards learning through work, empirically indicating that the experience of learning in contemporary organisations is entwined with work.

Originality/value

This study used the concept of complex adaptive organisations as a conceptual framework, coupled with an adapted phenomenographic methodology, to investigate individual professionals’ experiences of work and learning. The adoption of the concept of complex adaptive organisations provided a rigorous way to adopt a complexity approach. In particular, the concept of emergence provides insights into how organisational complexity influences work and, subsequently, learning and adaptation.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 29 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 14 July 2020

Henry Adobor

The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework for extending an understanding of resilience in complex adaptive system (CAS) such as supply chains using…

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1027

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework for extending an understanding of resilience in complex adaptive system (CAS) such as supply chains using the adaptive cycle framework. The adaptive cycle framework may help explain change and the long term dynamics and resilience in supply chain networks. Adaptive cycles assume that dynamic systems such as supply chain networks go through stages of growth, development, collapse and reorientation. Adaptive cycles suggest that the resilience of a complex adaptive system such as supply chains are not fixed but expand and contract over time and resilience requires such systems to navigate each of the cycles’ four stages successfully.

Design/methodology/approach

This research uses the adaptive cycle framework to explain supply chain resilience (SCRES). It explores the phases of the adaptive cycle, its pathologies and key properties and links these to competences and behaviors that are important for system and SCRES. The study develops a conceptual framework linking adaptive cycles to SCRES. The goal is to extend dynamic theories of SCRES by borrowing from the adaptive cycle framework. We review the literature on the adaptive cycle framework, its properties and link these to SCRES.

Findings

The key insight is that the adaptive cycle concept can broaden our understanding of SCRES beyond focal scales, including cross-scale resilience. As a framework, the adaptive cycle can explain the mechanisms that support or prevent resilience in supply chains. Adaptive cycles may also give us new insights into the sort of competences required to avoid stagnation, promote system renewal as resilience expands and contracts over time.

Research limitations/implications

The adaptive cycle may move our discussion of resilience beyond engineering and ecological resilience to include evolutionary resilience. While the first two presently dominates our theorizing on SCRES, evolutionary resilience may be more insightful than both are. Adaptive cycles capture the idea of change, adaptation and transformation and allow us to explore cross-scale resilience.

Practical implications

Knowing how to prepare for and overcoming key pathologies associated with each stage of the adaptive cycle can broaden our repertoire of strategies for managing SCRES across time. Human agency is important for preventing systems from crossing critical thresholds into imminent collapse. More importantly, disruptions may present an opportunity for innovation and renewal for building more resilience supply chains.

Originality/value

This research is one of the few studies that have applied the adaptive cycle concept to SCRES and extends our understanding of the dynamic structure of SCRES

Details

The International Journal of Logistics Management, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-4093

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Article
Publication date: 4 May 2010

Helmut Nechansky

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

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1079

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

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Book part
Publication date: 19 December 2013

Reuben R. McDaniel, Dean J. Driebe and Holly Jordan Lanham

We discuss the impact of complexity science on the design and management of health care organizations over the past decade. We provide an overview of complexity science…

Abstract

Purpose

We discuss the impact of complexity science on the design and management of health care organizations over the past decade. We provide an overview of complexity science issues and their impact on thinking about health care systems, particularly with the rising importance of information systems. We also present a complexity science perspective on current issues in today’s health care organizations and suggest ways that this perspective might help in approaching these issues.

Approach

We review selected research, focusing on work in which we participated, to identify specific examples of applications of complexity science. We then take a look at information systems in health care organizations from a complexity viewpoint.

Findings

Complexity science is a fundamentally different way of understanding nature and has influenced the thinking of scholars and practitioners as they have attempted to understand health care organizations. Many scholars study health care organizations as complex adaptive systems and through this perspective develop new management strategies. Most important, perhaps, is the understanding that attention to relationships and interdependencies is critical for developing effective management strategies.

Research and practice implications

Increased understanding of complexity science can enhance the ability of researchers and practitioners to develop new ways of understanding and improving health care organizations.

Originality/value

This analysis opens new vistas for scholars and practitioners attempting to understand health care organizations as complex adaptive systems. The analysis holds value for those already familiar with this approach as well as those who may not be as familiar.

Details

Annual Review of Health Care Management: Revisiting The Evolution of Health Systems Organization
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-715-3

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Article
Publication date: 30 October 2018

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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