Learning in organizations, and the competence the organization thereby obtains for performing its core tasks, has come into ever sharper focus when attempts have been made to explain the degree of competitiveness of companies. Much learning takes place when people interact, converse, or co-act. In their research, the current authors have found themselves in need of a new concept, relatonic, that can be applied to the study of interaction and relations at organizational level. To focus interactions and relations is important for all organizations, and extra important for networked and virtual organizations, where persons not as often meet naturally just by working close to each other. The authors have defined and used the concept on the basis of their respective theoretical platforms. These concern recent thinking within the theories of workplace learning (WPL) and organization pedagogics (Döös, 2004, 2007) and theories of complex adaptive systems (CAS) (Backström, 2004). The possibility of a joint definition of the concept of relatonics has been explored (Backström & Döös, 2005), thereby initiating integration of parts of the theories of WPL and CAS. Next, in the Background, follows the joint definition of relatonics and the concept relatonic is expounded from a CAS perspective. Thereafter, follows a description of practical implications of relatonics. The aim is to describe the importance of relatonics for networked and virtual organizations. The main underlying problem concerns which opportunities for everyday learning and competence development are offered in working life, both at an individual and organizational level, but also the problem of stabilizing and integrating organizations composed of relatively autonomous parts.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Competence: The ability to apply one’s knowledge and experience in specific contexts calling for action.
Interaction with Transaction: When two or more people communicate with or react to each other, and there is a fluid interpenetrating relationship between objective conditions and subjective experience, such that once they become related, both are essentially changed.
Order Parameter: An order parameter is formed by self-organized emergence occurring when autonomous individuals interact. At the same time, the order parameter is enslaving the individuals and by that integrating them to a system.
Relatonics: The composite existence of relations in a workplace that are of importance in and for the performance of the core operational task.
Self-Organization: The process by which a system chooses way at a bifurcation point as a result of both individual variability and communication between individuals.
Crude Complexity: The length of the shortest message that will describe a system, at a given level of coarse graining, to someone at a distance, employing language, knowledge, and understanding that both parties share (and know they share) beforehand.
Relation: The way in which two people feel and behave towards each other.
Competence Bearing Relation: Interaction processes between people that construct and reconstruct competence.
Complex Depth: How laborious it is to go from the shortest message of crude complexity to a full blown description of the system itself.
Autocatalytic Interaction: An interaction that increases the probability of further interaction between the same people.