Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

Can Biomimicry and Managerial Concepts Come Together?

Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

Can Biomimicry and Managerial Concepts Come Together?

Article excerpt


Purpose: Biomimicry, as a new way to create technology, provides new perspectives and innovations for companies' strategies. Biomimicry has been used in different fields such as architecture, product design, engineering and production processes since the 1990s. Although its long history, biomimicry and managerial concepts were handled together in just a few studies. The primary purpose of this paper is to handle biomimicry and managerial concepts together and to bring a managerial perspective to biomimicry.

Design/methodology/approach: This study used a qualitative approach by exploring existing literature and relevant cases for biomimicry and selected managerial concepts.

Findings: The study has put forward twelve propositions in order to correlate biomimicry and managerial concepts. We tried to correlate leadership and biomimicry in terms of harmonized individuals and teams and flexibility and courage ability of leaders. With regard to innovation, biomimicry is a powerful driver to accomplish and sustain innovation processes. On the other hand, biomimicry is a relevant concept of being an open system of companies and a significant tool of strategy formulation. Finally organization structure is linked with biomimicry in terms of being organic, lean and self-replicating.

Research limitations/implications: It has also significance to future research in sustainability issues.

Practical implications: The study could be a starting point or a guideline for companies to survive by mimicking nature.

Originality/value: This study is a step forward in understanding the link between biomimicry and managerial concepts.

Keywords: Sustainability, biomimicry, business strategy, strategy formulation, leadership, innovation, organization structure.


In 1920s, the relation between biology and management began with General Systems Theory asserted by Austrian Biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy. He argued that every organism was a system, which he defined as a complex of elements in mutual interaction. In order to understand any system, he suggests, it is necessary to understand not only the parts but also relations that exist between them. He also claims that population system maintaining itself in dynamic equilibrium (Hammond, 2010) and examines the world (or only a system) as a whole. This development of biology science were adapted to management field as contingency (situational) approach. According to this approach, there is no one best approach to universalize a set of management principles. Some dynamics such as organization structure (Burns and Stalker, 1959), modal techonolgy (Woodward, 1958) or combination of several contextual factors (Lawrence and Lorsch, 1967) were studied by researchers to explore how contextual factors affect management.

At the same period, in 1950s, entropy and negentropy concepts which are inspired from thermodynamics and biology fields became important and needed to be considered. Because both of system approach and contingency approach bring forward that organizations consider their environment to challenge entropic effects and survive. These consecutive ideas lead to strategic management field inspire from natural selection process. Organizations adapted some supportive ideas from natural selection process to their strategic management processes. From this point of view, organizations became a kind of practitioner of a Latin sentence, 'Ego primum tollo nominor quoniam leo'.

By 1970s, management field has maintained inspirations from biological systems. Population ecology approach was one of the most important approaches which was proposed in that time. According to authors (Hannan, Freeman, 1977), the intensity of inertial pressures on organizational structure recommends the application of models that rely on competition and selection of populations of organization.

After all interactions between biology and management field, this relation has become more significant, intense and overlapped as organizations consider and make the nature better and more sustainable. …

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