Monday, October 15, 2012

Dent (2003) wrote of dimensions beyond those of which people commonly perceive. He suggested that these dimensions host constructs that humankind hold as paradox. However, in these other dimensions these constructs present as “material” and therefore, self-evident. Dent’s premise arguably holds two ends of complexity, spiritual and physical. He asserted, based on the works he cited by Gell-Mann, and Schwartz and Ogilvy, that relationship forms the “central concept of organizational life” (p. 131). Conversely, the Bible teaches and some ostensibly have observed that both God and man function as triune beings. This observation has therefore created plausibility that dimensionality and therefore complexity, as the literature has recently defined it, may fall short of encompassing the observable nature of material reality in the four sensed dimensions. Combining the soul, represented by one’s intellect and seat of emotions, with physical existence (as much of the recent literature has), might render the contribution of the soul less valuable than what its nature actually provides to the dynamics found in complexity. A three-way paradox, of sorts?

In that regard, I consider the ramifications associated with the long accepted, a priori observation that sometimes the whole presents as greater than the sum of the parts. Rational, natural, open, and chaordic systems enter the discussion here. The dominate coalition examined above developed, maintained, and presented behaviors based on their individual and collective rational beliefs that “… organizations are purposefully designed for the pursuit of explicit objectives” (Scott, 1981, p. 408). Natural beliefs emerged, as they nearly always do, questioning if "the plans" would win out or if some other complex, adaptive, and dynamic factors would emerge and vanquish “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men…” (Burns, 1785/2008). Scott further suggested that people may view both rational and natural systems from either an open or closed system perspective. He further detailed how the open system viewpoints have dominated the literature since about 1960; regardless that Pfeffer (1998) presented a case in which he argued the typical existence of organizations that continue to use management techniques that most readily apply in a paradigm of closed-rational, even though Scott and Pfeffer (and I would suspect Bennis, Beckhard, and Stacey, among a whole host of other leadership and organization experts) would argue that generally, theorists find open-natural the most appropriate model by which to consider today’s organizations.

Burns, R. (1785/2008). To a mouse, on turning her up in her nest with the plough. Retrieved from:

Dent, E. (2003). Reconciling complexity theory in organizations and Christian spirituality. Emergence, 5(4), 124-140.

Pfeffer, J. (1998). The human equation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Scott, W. R. (1981). Developments in Organization Theory, 1960-1980. The American Behavioral Scientist, 24(3), 407.

Stacey, R. (2000). The emergence of knowledge in organizations. Emergence, 2(4), 23-39



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