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

By Stephen J. Guastello | Go to book overview

The evolution and adaptation principles are central in new theory concerning the economics of the firm ( Hansen & Samuelson, 1988; Selten, 1991).

Having sketched the general metaphor, the topic should turn next to the economics of natural resources. Because humans pillage the planet for economic reasons, economics--somewhere--holds the key to reversing and revising consumption trends to keep the renewable resources renewed, and to preserve the nonrenewable resources to meet the needs of future generations.

Rosser ( 1991) illustrated the dynamics of natural resource economics, for which open sea fishing was used as the primary example, as a cusp catastrophe model. The model was based on the predator-prey dynamic, such that fishing leaves a sustainable population of fish on the upper sheet of the surface, but overfishing leaves an unsustainable population on the bottom sheet. The management trick is to establish a fishing level that is close to the critical threshold, at which the harvest is maximal short of ruining the future supply.

In practice, it is difficult to calculate the critical threshold for each economically interesting species due to many unknowns concerning the species' breeding habits, food supply, and competition dynamics with other species. In the Great Lakes, where the trout are stocked, the critical threshold might be ascertained by "surfing," which is, in essence, a trial-and-error procedure; in the event of an error, the pond can be restocked. In open waters, however, errors could mean indefinite disaster. A conservative shift too far from the threshold may be ecologically viable but may conflict with fishing economics. Fishing economics, like so many other industries, profits through economies of scale. Open sea fishing is often done by huge factory ships that clean and process the fish between the time at the fishing hole and the return to the port. Each fishing stop dredges huge quantifies of fish, such that the sustainable population is likely to be bankrupted through routine visits. Large nets with small holes dredge fish that are too young, thus compromising the viability of the next generation of fish. Endangered species are dredged up along with the target species indiscriminately. Careful fishing, irrespective of the scale, requires time and attention, and time is money. Too bad for the fish.


SUMMARY

The new theories of evolution not only provide improved explanations for biological phenomena, but also extend to social developmental phenomena. A species adaptation can be fast as well as slow, and adaptations are as much a result of learning and behavior as they are of biological

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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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