Management as Evolution: Learning from Complexity Theory

Wendy Chapple*, Christof Miska

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Contribution to conferenceConference paper


Despite several mainstream approaches including multi-level research, contextualization, and systems perspectives, management scholarship continues emphasizing the organisation as the focus point. In the same way, application of complexity and chaos theories thus far has been selective, loosely linked to organisation studies or limited to the corporate context at the expense of the broader overarching system and its interlinkages with companies. Therefore, addressing these gaps, we draw from complex dynamic system theories to outline the states these systems could assume. Based on this foundation, we derive the implications for managers as they experience cues from changing states, aim to interpret them, and respond to the evolving transitions of the larger system. In addition, we develop directions for management research to consider the specific system states of the phenomena it studies. For both managerial practice and research, we maintain that the outside-in view from the larger system towards the company is central. In this way, we aim to advance the perspective that management needs to appropriately and continuously align with the evolving states of complex dynamic systems rather than maintaining to control or respond to them.


ConferenceJournal of Management Studies Conference 2022 – Repurposing Management for the Public Good: Processes, Obstacles and Unintended Consequences
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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