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The Impact of Complex Adaptive Systems

Complex Adaptive Systems

The Impact of Complex Adaptive Systems

As a teenager beginning a new school, you likely searched for other students who were similar to you to
befriend. You may have looked for students with similar backgrounds, interests, hobbies, and academic
abilities. It is likely that no one explicitly told you to do this but that you did it naturally. Others did likewise,
and groups began to form. As your group began to interact with other groups, rules governing these
relationships may also have formed. Again, these relationships were likely not instituted by anyone in
formal authority but passed informally among members and between groups. However, some members
may have deviated from these informal relationship rules. If the influence of these individuals were strong

enough, they could permanently alter the relationships within and between groups.

Those who apply complexity theories suggest that organizations and even entire industries develop in
much the same way as individuals or entire organizations pursue individual goals, react to the actions of
others, and form relationships. Scholar-practitioners must ask themselves what implications these
theories have for those attempting to develop strategy for modern organizations.

To prepare, review this Week�s Learning Resources on complexity theory. Consider the potential impact

of a complex adaptive system for the organization you chose for your SSP.

Most activities that take place at Brookside Dairy Company forms part of complex
adaptive systems with the potential of benefiting the organization in several ways. Complex
adaptive systems are not used to predict what will happen rather they are used to think about the
world around us and all situations related to their environment (Schwandt & Szabla, 2013).
Many natural and artificial systems taking place within Brookside Dairy Company are
characterized by apparently complex behaviors that result from interactions of these numerous
Since there is a close connection between the systems and their environment, it is easy for
systems within accompany to adapt to the changing environment. In the case of Brookside dairy,
the connection will be created such that the decisions that are made in the finance department are
likely to affect the production department. In this regard, change always seen in the context of
co-evolution with all the related systems as opposed to separate and distinct environment.
Complex adaptive systems allow distributed control within the organization and this enhances
coherence within an organization (Kim & Mackey, 2014). In this case, there is no single
centralized control mechanism that governs the system behavior of all the operations taking
place within Brookside Company. Moreover, complex adaptive systems promote
interrelationships and interaction that facilitate the connectivity of different departments within

the same organization. This implies that the decisions and actions within one part of Brookside
Dairy Company are likely to affect all other related departments of the company. Complex
adaptive systems within an organization have the potential of influencing co-evolution that
changes the elements of an organization based on their interactions with one another.
According to Edson (2012), changes within complex adaptive system have the capability
of deviating the focus and nature of professional behavior of individuals to a greater extent. Hall
and Clark (2010) also argue that the use of complex adaptive system has the possibility of
replacing the machines due to their productive means of approaching organizational change. By
modeling Brookside Dairy Company structure, and processes on a complex adaptive system
adapts to external stimuli through self-organization. Therefore, complex adaptive systems have
the potential of achieving improved performance in the organization by supporting learning
initiatives. Complex adaptive system provides a framework and a model that helps in the
analysis and construction of that helps organizations achieve their objectives (Kim & Mackey,
2014). Over the years, complex adaptive system remains an interesting alternative framework
through which to instigate and understand organizational change. Complex adaptive systems
promote involvement, good relationships, and good understanding of any given situation within
the workplace. Complex adaptive systems provide an alternative paradigm to that of strong and
effective leaders managing a passive and resistant workforce change (Edson, 2012).
With regards to innovation, complex adaptive system promotes the energy and creativity
of the leadership of a particular organization. Moreover, it promotes innovation and creativity of
the leadership of the organization through management conformity. Complex adaptive systems
have enabled the leaders of organizations to bring new concepts of self-organizing pattern of
behavior across the operation systems. The new patterns of behavior result in the creation of new

services and more responsive local needs that promotes the innovation of businesses. Complex
adaptive systems enable the leadership of Brookside Dairy Company to form self-directing teams
that provide greater opportunities to experiment and innovate as per their line of duties.


Edson, M. (2012). A Complex Adaptive Systems View of Resilience in a Project Team. Systems
Research & Behavioral Science. Vol. 29 Issue 5, p499-516.
Hall, A & Clark, N. (2010). What do complex adaptive systems look like and what are the
implications for innovation policy? Journal of International Development. Vol. 22 Issue
3, p308-324.
Kim, R & Mackey, B. (2014). International environmental law as a complex adaptive system.
International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law & Economics. Vol. 14 Issue 1,
Schwandt, D & Szabla, D. (2013). Structuration theories and complex adaptive social systems:
Inroads to describing human interaction dynamics. Emergence: Complexity &
Organization. Vol. 15 Issue 4, p1-20.

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