Complexity and Creativity in Organizations

Ralph Stacey (Author)

Publication date: 04/01/1996

Complexity and Creativity in Organizations

Today's business environment is characterized by faster technology development and information flow, increasing interconnectedness between organizations, and the much greater diversity between people that this brings. These changes make it increasingly difficult for us foresee the consequences of our actions and stay "in control." Traditional organization theory, however, mandates that we design organizations and predict outcomes, conditioning us to assume that there is no alternative. According to this framework, we simply must foresee and stay in control, for without this there can be no order, only anarchy.

Complexity and Creativity in Organizations explains why managers in organizations cannot use projected future outcomes in action planning because future outcomes are radically unpredictable. Ralph Stacey shows how creative futures emerge from spontaneously self-organizing processes of complex learning. Complexity and Creativity in Organizations is the most comprehensive and thorough treatment of how the study and management of organizations need to change to be in tune with what we are learning from the new science of complexity. In it Stacey presents an entirely new framework for understanding life in organizations.

Combining insights from the new science with insights from psychoanalysis, Stacey posits that repressing the anxiety caused by the unstable, ever-changing nature of today's business world also represses the creative impulses-the "spaces for novelty"-that allow members of a work force to produce their best work. Organizations are creative, he says, when they operate on the edge of chaos. Thus, we should not ask how we can control the future, but rather how we can make sense of our own real, personal experience of life in organizations.

In Complexity and Creativity in Organizations , Stacey details this theory, and offers a new framework for organizations to follow. Using the science of complexity as a starting point, he pulls together many insights into behavior and organizational functioning that currently lie at the fringes of research and practice. This book invites people to explore what the new science might mean for understanding life in organizations, and shows how it can be used as a framework for understanding the processes that produce emergence rather than intentional strategies. Stacey presents an entirely new perspective on what it means for an organization to learn.

  • From a pioneer in the application of the new science for understanding life in organizations
  • Demonstrates what leadership means in an environment where control is impossible
  • Provides a rigorous model of the learning organization that takes into account the real-life anxieties involved

Read more and meet author below



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9781881052890

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Overview

Today's business environment is characterized by faster technology development and information flow, increasing interconnectedness between organizations, and the much greater diversity between people that this brings. These changes make it increasingly difficult for us foresee the consequences of our actions and stay "in control." Traditional organization theory, however, mandates that we design organizations and predict outcomes, conditioning us to assume that there is no alternative. According to this framework, we simply must foresee and stay in control, for without this there can be no order, only anarchy.

Complexity and Creativity in Organizations explains why managers in organizations cannot use projected future outcomes in action planning because future outcomes are radically unpredictable. Ralph Stacey shows how creative futures emerge from spontaneously self-organizing processes of complex learning. Complexity and Creativity in Organizations is the most comprehensive and thorough treatment of how the study and management of organizations need to change to be in tune with what we are learning from the new science of complexity. In it Stacey presents an entirely new framework for understanding life in organizations.

Combining insights from the new science with insights from psychoanalysis, Stacey posits that repressing the anxiety caused by the unstable, ever-changing nature of today's business world also represses the creative impulses-the "spaces for novelty"-that allow members of a work force to produce their best work. Organizations are creative, he says, when they operate on the edge of chaos. Thus, we should not ask how we can control the future, but rather how we can make sense of our own real, personal experience of life in organizations.

In Complexity and Creativity in Organizations , Stacey details this theory, and offers a new framework for organizations to follow. Using the science of complexity as a starting point, he pulls together many insights into behavior and organizational functioning that currently lie at the fringes of research and practice. This book invites people to explore what the new science might mean for understanding life in organizations, and shows how it can be used as a framework for understanding the processes that produce emergence rather than intentional strategies. Stacey presents an entirely new perspective on what it means for an organization to learn.

  • From a pioneer in the application of the new science for understanding life in organizations
  • Demonstrates what leadership means in an environment where control is impossible
  • Provides a rigorous model of the learning organization that takes into account the real-life anxieties involved

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Ralph Stacey



Ralph Stacey is a professor of management at the Business School of the University Hertfordshire and also a visiting lecturer at universities in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Malta. He is an active consultant to top management teams in major companies and the author of a several books on management and organization, including Complexity and Creativity in Organizations, Dynamic Strategic Management, Chaos Frontier, Managing Chaos, Managing the Unknowable, and Strategic Management and Organizational Dynamics.

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Table of Contents

Contents

    Part I: The Complex Nature of Human Networks
  1. Organizations Are Complex Adaptive Systems
    Part II: The Science of Complexity
  1. Deterministic Networks: Chaos and Dissipative Structures.
  2. Complex Adaptive Networks: Self Organizing Learning Systems at the Edge of Chaos
    Part III: Mapping the Science of Complexity onto Organizations
  1. Creativity in a Mind
  2. Creativity in a Group
  3. The Space for Creativity in an Organization
  4. Evolution and Predictability in the Creative Space
  5. Avoiding and Occupying the Space for Creativity in Practice
    Part IV: Implications of Complexity Theory for Organizations
  1. Implications of the Complexity Paradigm for Research into Management and Organization
  2. Implications of the Science of Complexity for Management Practice

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Endorsements

"This stimulating and informative book opens our eyes to connections between complexity science and the world of organizations and innovative change. I found this book's treatment of new ideas to be clear, provocative, and inspiring."

Brian Goodwin, Professor, The Open University

"Complexity and Creativity in Organizations effectively combines seemingly divergent concepts from the new sciences, Jungian psychology, and organizational theory to produce a rich, provocative, and useful new model of how organizations will survive in our complex world."

Mark Michaels, Founder, The Chaos Network

"Stacey's previous publications have illuminated the relevance of complexity theory to organization and management in a rapidly changing environment. His latest book takes us a significant step forward, reviving systems theory by introducing insights from biology and other disciplines, including psychoanalysis, and integrating them into a new and original perspective. Stacey demonstrates convincingly the limitations of conscious human intention in directing organizational change and the necessity to embrace unpredictable creative processes if enterprises are to survive and prosper. This is a lucidly argued and challenging contribution."

Eric Miller, Director, Group Relations Programme, The Tavistock Institute

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