Culturally Informed Evidence-Based Organizational Change and Development Through the Lens of Complexity Theory

Culturally Informed Evidence-Based Organizational Change and Development Through the Lens of Complexity Theory

Maria Cseh (The George Washington University, USA) and Beatriz Coningham (National Committee for Quality Assurance, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6155-2.ch007

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors apply the lens of complexity theory to explore evidence-based organizational change and development (EBOCD) in global contexts with external OCD consultants working with organizations located in a national culture other than their own. The authors' research and experience leads them to believe that, while OCD is practiced within the complexity of organizations, the addition of cross-cultural dimensions significantly exacerbate the contradictions and paradoxes OCD practitioners need to manage, making change initiatives and their results more unpredictable. The authors highlight the experiences of global OCD external consultants to illustrate this added complexity and discuss how practitioners should apply evidence in a complex, cross-cultural environment.
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Complexity Theory And Evidence-Based Organizational Change And Development

Complexity theory has caused the people who lead and study organizations to acknowledge that the world is much more complicated and that we understand much less about it than we like to admit. (Lowell, 2016, p. 179)

In an economy where knowledge takes a predominant role as a major commodity, many organizational practices based on a mechanistic view of organizations became out of date. Based on Newtonian determinism, the metaphor used to describe organizations in the early 20th century was that of a ‘machine’ (Taylor, 1911). This view is characterized by hierarchical relations, centralized and rigid control, comprehensive strategic planning and standardized procedures. However, globalization, technological innovations, and the changing nature of work revealed the limitations of this approach in the 21st century (Olson & Eoyang, 2001) where complexity, flexibility, and unpredictability characterize the lives of organizations. In this Knowledge Era, social assets including learning, innovation, speed, and adaptability have become critical for organizational survival, thus physical assets no longer play a dominant role in ensuring the effectiveness of the organization (Zohar, 1997).

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