Issuu on Google+

Complexity Theory – Paper #3 St. Mary’s College LDSH 210 David P.Walker – GLD19


David Walker

St. Mary’s College – LDSH 210

February 15, 2009

Table of Contents Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................ 2 Key Points of Capra Chapter 4 ........................................................................................................ 3 Key Points of “Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting Leadership from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Era”............................................................................................................................... 4 Conclusion ....................................................................................................................................... 6 Works Cited ..................................................................................................................................... 7

Page 2 of 7 Complexity Theory - Paper # 3

Professor Ken Otter


David Walker

St. Mary’s College – LDSH 210

February 15, 2009

Key Points of Capra Chapter 4 1.

The world has changed and become increasingly complex. “Knowledge management”,

“intellectual capital”, and “organizational learning” are important new concepts in leadership theory (Capra, p. 88). The paradigm of economics focusing upon the exploitation of natural resources (land in particular), capital, and labor does not take into account sustainability or a systems view of life (ibid). The systems view of leadership involves inter-connections and interdependencies. 2.

“Images of Organizations” (Morgan, 1997) presents metaphors of people, resources,

and business organizations as: (1) machines – with focus upon control and efficiency; (2) organisms – develop and adapt; (3) brains - learning organizations; (4) cultures – values and beliefs; (5) and systems of government – conflict of interest and power (Capra, p. 89). 3.

Living beings are not machines. To treat them as such is to deprive them of all their

aliveness (p. 91). The key distinction between machines and living systems is a machine can be easily controlled and a living system can only be disturbed (p. 98). “As Margaret Wheatley puts it, ‘If we want to succeed with knowledge management we must attend to human needs and dynamics . . . knowledge [is not] the asset or capital. People are (p. 101). 4.

Nonlinear thinking is sometimes necessary to solve complex problems. Embracing and

resolving the strange unknown, the uncertain, or the absurd, is sometimes necessary to view reality in physics. The rise of quantum mechanics is a salient example (p. 103). For all of Albert Einstein’s genius, he refused to have an open mind to this proposition when he famously Page 3 of 7 Complexity Theory - Paper # 3

Professor Ken Otter


David Walker

St. Mary’s College – LDSH 210

February 15, 2009

quotes “that God does not play dice of the universe.” “Since the process of emergence is thoroughly nonlinear involving multiple feedback loops, it cannot be fully analyzed with our conventional, linear ways of reasoning” (p. 104). 5.

Embracing the process of emergence is central to complexity leadership theory.

Key Points of “Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting Leadership from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Era”

6.

If I had to summarize Marion & Uhl-Bien’s paper in just one-sentence it would be that a

good idea can come from anywhere and complexity leadership theory embraces this process of emergence. There are several orienting assumptions that underlie the complexity leadership model (Marion, McKelvey, & Mary, 1994): 7.

Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) is necessarily enmeshed within a superstructure of

planning, organizing, and missions. CLT seeks to understand how that administrative superstructure can function to both coordinate complex dynamics and enhance the overall flexibility of their organizations (p. 12). 8.

Complexity Leadership Theory presumes hierarchical structuring and differing adaptive

functions across levels of the hierarchy (ibid).

Page 4 of 7 Complexity Theory - Paper # 3

Professor Ken Otter


David Walker

9.

St. Mary’s College – LDSH 210

February 15, 2009

The unit of analysis for Complexity Leadership Theory is the CAS. The boundaries of CAS

are variously defined depending on the intent of the researcher, but however identified; they are, without exception, open systems (ibid). 10.

Leadership, however it is defined, only exists in, and is a function of, interaction (ibid).

11.

Complexity Leadership Theory is a framework for leadership that enables the learning,

creative, and adaptive capacity of complex adaptive systems (CAS) within a context of knowledge producing organizations or organizational units. This framework seeks to foster CAS dynamics while at the same time enabling control structures appropriate for coordinating formal organizations and producing outcomes appropriate to the vision and mission of the system (p. 17). 12.

Adaptive leadership refers to the actions and dynamics of interacting agents as they

work together within a network of interactive, interdependent agents and CAS to resolve adaptive problems. Adaptive activity can occur in a boardroom or in workgroups of line workers; adaptive leadership is an informal dynamic that occurs among interactive agents and is not an act of authority (p. 19). 13.

Administrative leadership refers to the actions of individuals who plan and coordinate

organizational activities. Administrative leadership structures tasks, engages in planning, builds vision, allocates resources to achieve goals, manages crises and conflicts, and manages organizational strategy. Administrative leadership is vested in formal authority roles within an organization (pp. 19-20).

Page 5 of 7 Complexity Theory - Paper # 3

Professor Ken Otter


David Walker

14.

St. Mary’s College – LDSH 210

February 15, 2009

Enabling leadership works to create conditions in which adaptive leadership can thrive

and enables the flow of adaptive knowledge from adaptive structures into administrative structures. Enabling leadership is most often vested in formal positions because of their access to resources and authority, but it may also be performed by informal agents as well (p. 20). 15.

In Complexity Leadership Theory, these three leadership functions are intertwined in a

manner that we refer to as entanglement. Entanglement describes a dynamic relationship between the formal top-down, administrative forces and the informal, complexly adaptive emergent forces of social systems. In organizations, administrative and adaptive leadership interact, and may help or oppose one another (p. 20).

Conclusion The abovementioned fifteen points are some of the key elements in the discussion from the two assigned readings. Complexity leadership theory and systems dynamics is a multifaceted

subject

of

interactions

and

interdependencies.

All

the

connections,

disconnections, dependencies and alienations of systems dynamics is worthy of deep thought and merits a lengthy discussion.

Page 6 of 7 Complexity Theory - Paper # 3

Professor Ken Otter


David Walker

St. Mary’s College – LDSH 210

February 15, 2009

Works Cited Capra, F. (2004). The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living. New York: Knopf Publishing Group. Marion, R., McKelvey, B., & Mary, U.-B. (1994). Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifiting Leadership from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Era. Complexity Leadership Theory (p. 55). New Orleans, LA: National Academy of Management Meeting. Morgan, G. (1997). Images of Orginizations. Thousand Oaks, California 91320: SAGE Publications, Inc. Rost, J. C. (1991). Leadership - For the Twenty-First Century. West Port, CT: Praeger Publishers, Inc.

Page 7 of 7 Complexity Theory - Paper # 3

Professor Ken Otter


Complexity Theory