Organizations as Self-organizing and Sustaining Systems – A Complex and Autopoietic Systems Perspective

Many alternative theories about organization exist. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, adequate explanation of the relationship between macro and micro processes of organization, and organizational dynamics remains elusive. In the recent past there has been growing interest in two areas of systems science that offer a different basis for understanding the generative and dynamic qualities of organizations. These are autopoietic theory and complex adaptive systems theory. In this paper, we outline a theory of organization built on a synthesis of these two theoretical strands. It is argued that the approach provides an improved framework for understanding the nature and dynamics of organizational phenomena, and as such a more rigorous basis upon which to base future organizational research. In this paper, we have argued that there are pervasive theoretical and practical difficulties that arise from the diverse and alternative ways of thinking about social organization. We have argued that the two perspectives of autopoietic theory and complexity theory provide a foundation for a substantive theory of organization that avoids the difficulties of contemporary approaches. While other writers have applied either one or the other of these perspectives to organization, none appear to have argued for the possibility of a synthesis of the two. We have put the position that a synthesis is not only possible but valuable.



About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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