Understanding Complexity in Organizations: Behavioral Systems

Understanding Complexity in Organizations: Behavioral Systems

Understanding Complexity in Organizations: Behavioral Systems

Understanding Complexity in Organizations: Behavioral Systems

Synopsis

Organizations are complex entities that must adapt the practices of their employees and management to meet the demands of a dynamic environment. Organizations are behavioral systems that coordinate interactions among its members and environment. Changing practices in one area of an organization can generate a reaction throughout the entire system, thus affecting the behaviors of those working within other areas, the experience of customers, and important organizational results. Behavioral Systems Analysis (BSA) focuses on these complex contingencies from the macro system all the way down to individual behavior.

This book contains articles by internationally recognized experts in Behavioral Systems Analysis who discuss the role of organizational practices in their study of performance improvement and cultural change from both practical and conceptual perspectives. Business and non-profit managers will find tools and case studies to help understand and diagnose their organization's dynamics. Scholars will appreciate articles' theory and real-world descriptions when considering their own research direction. Finally, all students of management theory, behavior analysis, and human resources will find this collection a thought-provoking tool for their understanding of behavioral systems and their application in organizations.

This book was published as a special issue in the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management.

Excerpt

Organizational systems are adaptive entities that survive by meeting environmental demands (consumers, competition, economy, governmental policies, etc.) through the development and maintenance of subsystems ultimately designed to manage behavior. Thus, organizations are behavioural systems that encompass complex patterns of behavioral interactions among their members and the environment. For instance, a change in practices of one area of the organization may bring about a ripple reaction throughout the entire system, thus affecting the behaviors of those working within one department. Behavioral Systems Analysis (BSA) focuses on these complex response patterns, and seeks to understand the critical aspects of the system involved in the controlling relationships between the organization and contingencies. Behavioral systems analysts also analyze the role of organizational practices in their study of performance improvement and cultural change.

Even though the literature and technology associated with the behavioural systems perspective can be traced back to the early 1960s, the development of conceptual as well as experimental work in this area has not evolved as rapidly as other areas of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM). The last decade, however, has seen a reengagement of interests in behavioural systems analysis through an increased demand by practitioners and leaders in organizations as they experience these complex phenomena.

In that regard, this book serves not only as a tribute to the work of our pioneering colleagues (Brethower, 1982; Malott, 2003; Rummler, 2004), but also as a source of inspiration and ideas for future research and practice. We have drawn well-known theorists, researchers, and practitioners from around the world together to present their most recent work on behavioral systems.

We dedicate this book to the memory of Dr. Geary Rummler, a pioneer in the field of Behavioral Systems Analysis and inspiration for many generations to come.

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