Chaos, Catastrophe, and Human Affairs: Applications of Nonlinear Dynamics to Work, Organizations, and Social Evolution

By Stephen J. Guastello | Go to book overview

3
Metaphors, Easter Bunnies, Modeling, and Verification

Nonlinear dynamical systems theory, as with any new paradigm in science, implies new ways of framing questions and analyzing phenomena, new topics to investigate, and new rules for determining how we know what we think we know about a phenomenon. Chaos and catastrophe theories are two central contributions to the new scientific outlook. Both stem more broadly from Poincaré's notions of qualitative analysis of mathematical functions. Both arrive at a drastically different concept of randomness compared to what social scientists and other consumers of statistics are accustomed to.

The new paradigm has several implications. First, many phenomena can be viewed with some heuristic advantage as autoregressive phenomena (variables that dependent of their own values from a previous point in time) that are controlled rather than caused. Second, changes in a system's behavior are governed by the amount of system entropy and the configuration of attractor and repellor forces. Third, many phenomena that appear adequately explained from an older paradigm can be reexamined. Gilmore ( 1981) showed that by reframing phase transitions (e.g., solid to liquid) and stability phenomena as a catastrophe model, it was possible to invoke another property of catastrophe--that of unfolding one model into an- other--to solve erstwhile unsolvable problems in irregular phase transitions, such as sublimation (solid directly to gas), and the stability of aircraft. The broad scope of NDS applications was outlined in the previous chapter.

The objective of this chapter is describe how one might so about discovering an application of NDS to an interesting social phenomenon. Applications begin with a cogent metaphor between the general rule and

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Chaos, Catastrophe, and Human Affairs: Applications of Nonlinear Dynamics to Work, Organizations, and Social Evolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments x
  • 1 - An Invitation to Chaos 1
  • Summary 10
  • 2 - Nonlinear Dynamical Systems Theory 11
  • Summary 57
  • 3 - Metaphors, Easter Bunnies, Modeling, and Verification 59
  • Summary 97
  • 4 - Nds, Human Decision Making, and Cognitive Processes 99
  • Summary 123
  • 5 - Dynamics of Motivation and Conflict 124
  • Summary 173
  • 6 - Stress and Human Performance 175
  • 7 - Accidents and Risk Analysis 205
  • Summary 231
  • 8 - Stress-Related Illness 232
  • Summary 256
  • 9 - The Evolution of Human Systems 257
  • Summary 298
  • 10 - Innovation, Creativity, and Complexity 301
  • Summary 328
  • 11 - The Dynamical Nature of Organizational Development 329
  • Summary 365
  • 12 - Chaos, Revolution, and War 367
  • Epilogue: Nothing Stops These Elephants 395
  • References 402
  • Author Index 426
  • Subject Index 435
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