Fostering Creative Transformations in Organizations with Chaos

Fostering Creative Transformations in Organizations with Chaos

Robert Pryor (Australian Catholic University, Australia) and Jim Bright (Australian Catholic University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8468-3.ch036
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Abstract

This chapter introduces the Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor & Bright, 2003b, 2011) as applied to organizational behavior. The authors argue that organizations and the people within them can be usefully thought of as complex dynamical open systems – or strange attractors. From this perspective, organizational behavior can be understood in chaos terms such as attractors, fractal patterns, non- linearity, emergence, and phase shifts. Understanding organizations in dynamic terms provides a coherent picture of the inherent uncertainty and change that organizations face. This, in turn, has implications for management models that need to move from command, control, and predict, to facilitation and disruption of closed system processes. The difference between organizational anarchy and a principled chaos-based approach are highlighted. A model of organizational and personal creativity is presented and linked to concepts such as fractal behavior, career development and the re-thinking of traditional goal-centered approaches to management and change. For organizations to thrive in a world that is inevitably complex, uncertain, and changing, the authors argue that the Chaos Theory of Careers provides a coherent management framework and suggests approaches that will foster the development of a creative and flexible organization to meet these contemporary challenges.
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The Chaos Theory Of Careers

Pryor and Bright (2011a) provides a comprehensive presentation of the application of Chaos Theory to the working environment. Chaos theory is a scientific conceptualization of reality which emphasizes the complex, interactive and interconnected nature of our world. While recognizing the individual constituents of reality (existents) chaos theory also draws attention to the holistic features of our world. Pryor and Bright (2003a, 2003b) conceptualized these as complex dynamical systems. Such systems are complex in the sense that there may be many influences both within them and impinging upon them. Such systems are dynamical because their complexity renders precise predictability of outcomes impossible and because the nature of the changes within the system are often non-linear (that is, the effects of change can be very disproportionate to the original cause of the change). This is popularly known as “the Butterfly Effect” (Lorenz 1993). The emphasis on systems draws attention to the interaction between constituents that make up the whole. In fact, in chaos terms everything ultimately is linked to everything else (Barrabasi 2003).

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