Complexity, Organizations and Change : An Essential Introduction book cover
1st Edition

Complexity, Organizations and Change
An Essential Introduction

ISBN 9780415314473
Published February 19, 2004 by Routledge
206 Pages

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Book Description

Complexity science has seriously challenged long-held views in the scientific community about how the world works. These ideas, particularly about the living world, also have radical and profound implications for organizations and society as a whole.

Complexity, Organizations and Change, available in paperback for the first time, describes and considers ideas and insights from complexity science and examines their use in organizations, especially in bringing about major organizational change. This key book explores how organizations, their design, the way they operate and, importantly, the people who co-create them, are thought of.

Explaining the history and development of complexity science in an accessible way for the non-scientific reader, this outstanding book describes key concepts and their use in theory and practice. Illustrated with real-life examples from organizations in the UK, Europe and the USA, the book includes an in-depth case study of an organization which used complexity principles as part of a strategic change intervention. From this, useful models for introducing a complexity-based change process are derived.

Complexity, Organizations and Change will appeal to academics, researchers and advanced students who are interested in complexity science and what it means for strategy, organization and management theory and organizational change.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Introducing Complexity 3. Organizations and the Long Shadow of Scientific Tradition 4. Le Plus Ca Change...The More it Stays the Same? 5. Transforming Organizations using Complexity 6. Changing the Open University: A Case Study 7. Complexity in Action 8. Future Possibilities, Future Choices

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Elizabeth McMillan is currently a Research Fellow at the Open University where she co-founded the Complexity Science Research Centre. She is also a co-founder and a Director of the UK Complexity Society and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, with many years experience as a senior manager.


'Elizabeth McMillan deserves great credit for producing such a helpful text. In Particular, the introductory sections which organize the many and varied roots of complexity thinking offer an excellent summary of a vast array of material. Students new to complexity thinking will find the text a great starting point.'

Robert MacIntosh, University of Strathclyde, UK

'This is an excellent, well structured and thoroughly thought out text. The author skillfully combines a detailed presentation of the theoretical grounding with an original case study illustrating the practical application of the proposed concept of complexity. It is interesting to read and engaging.'

Svetlana Cicmil, University of the West of England, UK

'This book brings the exciting subject of complexity science into the real world and provides managers with a new, relevant and intuitive way to approach the task of getting the team to produce winning results where the failing scientific/ linear thinking approach will not.'

John Ferrie, Group Managing Director, Smiths Aerospace

'Elizabeth has elegantly captured the history, complexity and process of change management in a way that will make it accessible to organisations - making it immensely helpful in understanding and working through the challenges facing them. The case study, and its cautionary tales and successes, is particularly relevant as an illustration of a transformational programme that brought about real change. Read it and use it!'

John Doidge, Staff Development Director, University of Leicester