The Interaction of Complexity and Management

By Michael R. Lissack | Go to book overview

3

Complexity in Human Terms

Roger Lewin and Birute Regine

In this chapter Roger Lewin and Birute Regine argue that management theory is undergoing a Kuhnian paradigm shift from the old linear, mechanical model or organization to a model built on the principles of complexity theory. In an organization built on this new model, the job of the manager shifts from controlling employees to encouraging their creativity. To do so, managers must generate an environment in which people can have genuine relationships, built on authenticity and care, in the context of supportive structures that enable them to connect with each other.

Until recently, our view of nature was very mechanistic. It had its roots in Newton’s insights into the movements of planets around the Sun: that their paths were predictable; that actions and reactions were equal and opposite. That is Newton’s clockwork universe. In biology for much of the twentieth century the perspective was similar: the systems were much more complex, but the view was that if you broke the systems into bits and pieces and found out what those bits and pieces did, you would know how the whole functioned. This is the reductionistic approach, and it has indeed been very successful in terms of learning a great deal about our world.

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