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Complexity in Organizations - the Theories of Organizations Essay Example

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Complexity in Organizations - the Theories of Organizations

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Complexity in Organizations - the Theories of Organizations. The eastern view of cyclical processes and the nature of time lends itself to organizational study when it has been found that “The Chinese have historically preferred to absorb complexity by absorbing it (through dense interpersonal linkages within tightly bounded communities) instead of reducing it via codification and abstraction” (Anderson, 1999). The paper goes on to state how Westerners prefer to reduce complexity through rule systems and legal institutions.
Taking the point forward, the authors argue that Western Multinationals operating in China have to make a crucial strategic choice: they can either try to cope with a complex environment by reducing complexity through standard operating procedures and policies or they can absorb it by building a relational network of allies.

This captures the dilemma faced by researchers and managers when studying complex systems like organizations. Whether they should try and look for the organic whole and absorb the inherent complexity of the system or prescribe rules and procedures that compartmentalize the system and hence break it down into parts.
It is the contention of this author that chaotic conditions that often are the defining characteristic of much of the developing world make the study of complex systems interesting and that managers from these countries are often better at managing complexity than the rule-bound westerners who like to break down the problem into constituent parts. However, this is not to generalize the point as the Japanese have proved that they are very good at re-engineering. The inference from the above is that study of the whole is as important as studying the parts. Hence, the point that complex organizations do not lend themselves to simplicity should be re-examined in this light. To turn to the research of the managers and CEO’s who are “aware” of the present and the future when making decisions as well as “plugged in” to the interlinkages in the system, the authors Brown and Eisenhardt provide models.  . Complexity in Organizations - the Theories of Organizations.

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Brown, S.L & Eisenhardt, K.M. (1998). The art of continuous change: Linking complexity theory and time-paced evolution in relentlessly shifting organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly. 42: 1-34.

Macintosh, R. & Maclean, D. (1999). Conditioned Emergence: A dissipative structures approach to transformation. Strategic Management Journal. 20: 297-316

McKelvey, B. (1999). Avoiding complexity catastrophe in coevolutionary pockets: Strategies for rugged landscapes. Organization Science. 10(3), 294-321

Quinn, R. E., & Rohrbaugh, J. (1983). A spatial model of effectiveness criteria: Towards a competing values approach to organizational analysis. Management Science, 29(3), 363-377

Williamson, O.E. (1979). Transaction-cost economics: The governance of contractual relations. Journal of Law and Economics. 22(2), 233-261

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