The Interaction of Complexity and Management

By Michael R. Lissack | Go to book overview

23

Complexity and Management: Where Do We Stand?

Steve Maguire

In this chapter Steve Maguire discusses the breadth and range of the complexity and management literature. He makes observations from a recent survey of more than fifty works in the field and draws together the commonalities and differences to be found in such a disparate collection of material.

In 1999, Bill McKelvey and I edited a special issue of Emergence devoted to reviews of books that purport to apply complexity theory to management and organizations. That such a special issue was possible gives you some idea of the volume of books coming off the printing press that purport to take complexity science or complexity thinking and apply it to management and organizations. Given this sudden volume of writing, Bill, Mike Lissack, and I shared a certain fear or hesitation that complexity theory might well be on its way to becoming just another fad. This is what motivated the special issue: we were trying to get a sense of just what is out there, on the shelves and accessible to practitioners. Is it merely more management guru “witch doctoring,” or is it sound science-based “medicine” and “remedies” for all of the sick organizational “patients” out there? Our full comments regarding the books and

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