1st Edition

Complex Responsive Processes in Organizations Learning and Knowledge Creation

By Ralph D. Stacey Copyright 2001
    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    270 Pages
    by Routledge

    The past decade has seen increasing focus on the importance of information and knowledge in economic and social processes, the so-called 'knowledge economy'. This is reflected in the popularity amongst practicing managers and organizational theorists of notions of learning, sense-making, knowledge creation, knowledge management and intellectual capital in organizations and more recently, of emotional intelligence as an important management skill. This insightful book:

    • argues that the information processing view of knowledge creation held by systems thinkers is no longer tenable
    • develops the alternative perspective of Complex Responsive Processes of relating, drawing on the complexity sciences as a source for analogies with human action
    • places self-organizing interaction at the centre of the knowledge creating process in organizations.

    Learning and knowledge creation are seen as qualitative processes of power relating that are emotional as well as intellectual, creative as well as destructive, enabling as well as constraining, and the result is a radical questioning of the belief that organizational knowledge is essentially codified and centralized. Instead, organizational knowledge is understood to be in the relationships between people in an organization and has to do with the qualities of those relationships.

    List of illustrations, Series preface, Acknowledgements, 1. Introduction: can learning and knowledge creation in organizations really be managed?, Part I. The foundations of mainstream views on learning and knowledge creation in organizations: systems thinking,  2. Mainstream thinking about learning and knowledge creation in organizations, 3. Different levels of learning and knowledge creation in organizations: the individual and the social, Part II. Toward a complexity perspective: the emergence of knowledge in complex responsive processes of relating, 4. The emergence of the individual and the social in communicative interaction, 5. Communicative action in the medium of symbols, 6. The organization of communicative action: rule-based or self-organizing knowledge?, 7. The emergence of enabling constraints: power relations and unconscious processes, 8. Organization as communicating in the living present: how knowledge emerges in complex responsive processes of relating, Part III. Systems thinking and the perspective of complex responsive processes: comparisons and implications, 9. Comparing systems thinking and the perspective of complex responsive processes, 10. The organizational implications of complex responsive processes of knowledge creation, Appendix: Autopoiesis: an inappropriate analogy for human action, Bibliography, Index


    Ralph Stacey is Professor of Management and Director of the Complexity and Management Centre at the University of Hertfordshire, and a member of the Institute of Group Analysis. He is also consultant to managers at many levels accross a range of organizations and the author of a number of books and articles on strategy and complexity theory in management.