1st Edition

Complexity in Organizations A Research Overview

By Stig O. Johannessen Copyright 2022
    140 Pages
    by Routledge

    140 Pages
    by Routledge

    Written with pace and clarity, this book is a comprehensive and compact overview and introduction to the research landscape of complexity in organizations.

    In addition to conveying a gripping history of how complexity has influenced organizational ideas, theories, and practices throughout the 20th century and into our present age, the book sheds light on how ground-breaking ideas in chaos and complexity research have emerged and challenged the very foundations of science into a changed vision of nature, society, and human organizations. As well as being an exciting investigation into complexity research in organizations, the book shows how, in the past, researchers who were immersed in the power politics of their day grappled with the theme of complexity in their quest to understand the dynamics of organization in nature and society. By welding fundamental theoretical themes and practical implications into the political and social contexts in which they emerged, this overview provides both depth and breadth to the history, as well as the future, of studies of complexity in organized activity.

    The book is a lucid and essential study of a topic that will be of interest to scholars, researchers, and students in the fields of business and management, especially those with an interest in the ways that complexity affects and transforms organizations.

    Part 1: Foundations of Complexity in Organizational Theories 1 Early Attempts to Deal with Complexity in Organizations 2 Cybernetics: The Rise of a Systems Science to Control Complexity 3 Systems Theories and Complexity in Organizations 4 The Origins of Complexity Theories in Organizations Part 2: Philosophy, Science, and Organizational Practice 5 Complexity, Philosophy, and Social Theory 6 Complexity, Philosophy, and Organizational Practice 7 Complexity Ideas in Strategy and Organizational Dynamics 8 Complexity Ideas in Leadership and Organizational Change


    Stig O. Johannessen is Professor of Organization and Leadership at Nord University, and Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway.

    "Johannessen’s book is a gripping read. His rich, critical and lucid account is grounded in world events and the socio-political exigencies and rationales that drove complexity ideas first in one direction and then another. The scope of the book is both broad and deep, drawing as it does on a range of disciplines including physics, biology, sociology, psychology, history, and philosophy. His writing is exceptionally clear, accessible and jargon free, which is no small achievement given the subject matter of the book." Farhad Dalal, PhD, Psychotherapist and Group Analyst, Devon, UK.

    "The book is a compelling demonstration of how traditional views on organizations and management throughout the recent century have fallen short of their promise to control the evolution and complexity of organizations and society. Consequently, in facing complexity there is an acute and fundamental need to reframe our views on organizations, society, and management." Thijs Homan, Professor and Consultant on Organizational Change, Netherlands.

    "Johannessen provides clear routes through the terrain of different intellectual traditions of complexity. The book is written with clarity, care for detail and a pace that is all too absent on the academic bookshelf. The strength of this unique exploration is that it enables readers to explore the ideas that loosely hold the field together and to venture into areas that we might be less familiar with."

    Rob Warwick, Professor of Management and Organisational Learning, Business School, University of Chichester, UK.

    "This concise book succeeds in providing an overview of the growth of complexity theory and its applications, showing the significance of this framework for the theory and practice of organizations and leadership. It is a lucid book, useful as a manual, enlightening as a textbook, and thought-provoking as a contribution to a vibrant intellectual field." Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, Norway.

    "The book is a concise and accessible guide to the field of complexity sciences in the organizational context, expertly and constructively covering both the foundations and the enduring tensions between the various complexity theories. I strongly recommend the book as an essential research overview for students and more advanced scholars alike." Harri Raisio, Senior Lecturer, Complexity Research Group, University of Vaasa, Finland.

    "Complexity is an acutely important theme on the agenda of today´s leaders and organizational actors. This book is an excellent insight into how theories of complexity have evolved in the tension between the natural sciences and the human sciences, and how key researchers have developed ideas of complexity in the political contexts of their time." Tor Olav Grøtan, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, SINTEF DIGITAL, and Associate Professor, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.

    "In this book the reader gets new perspectives on organizations, perspectives that embrace complexity rather than simplify the theme. Johannessen’s approach demonstrates the diversity of perspectives on complexity in organizations and triggers new questions. The book will certainly be useful for students and scholars as a guide to the development of new knowledge in future organization and management research." Fredrik Nilsson, Professor, Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Sweden.