Free «Journal Article Critique: "A Complex Adaptive Systems Model of Organization Change"» Essay Paper

Journal Article Critique:

Kevin Dooley has explored complex adaptive systems as a theory that can be used to explain the nature of organizations and how change affects business. He outlines the traditional principles that aimed at demonstrating the nature of enterprises such as social system determinism illustrated by Fredrick Taylor. The theory stipulated that understanding of the science of management allowed the easy prediction of business management. Dooley describes how management has developed over the centuries and the use of complex adaptive systems to comprehend management; therefore, the nature of an organization and change is essential. The article analyzes three paradigms of management theory that comprise of systems theory, population theory and information processing. Complex adaptive system (CAS) is compared with chaos theory and chaotic dynamics in the discussion of the integral elements of CAS. Here, the ability of CAS to organize itself and learn through its actions is described. Autopoiesis, which provides for structural change through self-replication, is analyzed in the article as a way through which CAS can be seen by a company. Change in the business is inevitable and the application of complex adaptive systems, according to the explanation offered by Dooley, to chaotic dynamics, chaos theory, agent of change, Darwinian landscape and autopoiesis, helps ease the transition.

Purpose Statement

The critique of the journal enhances the understanding of chaos theory, chaotic dynamics and CAS as a model of change as well as the key themes and ideas; moreover, it allows the application of CAS in project management concepts such as organizational structure, learning and development; the critique also improves the knowledge of an individual by introducing new concepts, namely Darwinian landscape and autopoiesis as well as invokes questions, particularly the effectiveness of the model in project management, the self-organizing nature of the model and the role of managers in the model.

Article Themes and Central Points

Chaos Theory and Chaotic Dynamics

Dooley explores the concept of chaos theory to describe CAS effectively. Chaos theory or the chaos dynamics explains that chaos in the firm influences changes in an organization. The article compares complex adaptive systems and chaos theory to allow a reader to adequately understand how CAS occurs and influences the company. The author asserts that chaos is essential to corporations, as they permit the formation of CAS, which in turn enables the company to reorganize itself (Dooley, 1997). Certain characteristics of chaos theory are described in the article; thus, one becomes much better aware of the concept. Hence, these features comprise the ability of modest nonlinear systems to cause random behaviors. An illustration or an in-depth analysis of this attribute are not provided in the article. However, after further research, a nonlinear equation or a system is the one that cannot be predicted; therefore, it is difficult to solve the issue.

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Due to the provided evidence, one can see that the chaos theory cannot be foreseen and the behaviors that it induces are random. It is different from CAS where it can be easily envisaged. The predictive value leads to its self-organizing nature. Various examples of CAS such as technologies, social systems and economies among others demonstrate the ability of CAS to be self-organized. Nevertheless, these cases do not occur in the chaotic manner but are rather organized in order to focus on certain factors. The article explains how through CAS, one can view an organizational structure in a holistic manner. A holistic approach involves analyzing the firm as a whole rather than taking into account a certain characteristic or activity showcased by the company (Rowe & Hogarth, 2005). Chaos theory chooses to focus on a particular feature or behavior displayed by a corporation. Through this differentiation, the features of CAS are exhibited successfully. Chaotic dynamics follows the same concept as chaos theory in showing its unpredictability and providing why CAS is more preferred in the organizational structure.

 
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Dooley claims that a complex adaptive system can arise from a chaotic dynamics. The article illustrates that when CAS is in a chaotic state, it tends to be unpredictable and challenging for businesses to use. The author may confuse a reader here since he initially stated that CAS is predictable in contrast to the chaotic theory (Dooley, 1997). However, an in-depth analysis of the statement reveals that chaos is necessary for a company for the implementation and the adoption of active CAS. It is because a firm’s structure proliferates, and through chaos, the business can learn whether it made a mistake, identify the risks it might face and find the efficient solution to its problems. Even though this factor is not illustrated in the article, a thorough understanding and further research allow one to realize that despite being different, chaotic dynamics and CAS are connected. They are related in that CAS can gradually evolve from a chaotic situation. Organizations are chaotic, and it is through this chaos that they can adopt a sophisticated system for their structure.

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CAS as a Model for Change

The model of CAS can be considered an agent for change in an organization. Therefore, this statement is echoed in the article consistently. The authors start by outlining the traditional systems that were used to influence change in the company. The theories include reductionism that led to the introduction of such an aspect as division of labor. Dooley emphasizes that the systems for explaining change in the business evolve in the same way as other things develop. Using CAS to promote change in a firm is simpler compared to the previous models applied for implementing change. The latter cannot occur randomly even when resorting to CAS. Hence, the article explores various paradigms of management theory since it is the management that encourages the employees to accept change and adopts it. The standards discussed embrace the system theory where change occurs through the structure and the environment of the business, which leads to excellent organizational performance. The population theory insists on the Darwinians concept in the management segment. Here, companies compete for resources as well as consumers (Dooley, 1997). Technology is employed in this theory to attain change. Finally, the article discussed information-processing theory where the decision-making process of a firm is at the center of change. Through these management theories, one may deduce that CAS is useful if the management motivate its staff to apply it. The given three management theories are considered the basis of CAS, as they correlate with each other to allow change to be introduced and implemented in a venture. According to the systems theory, also referred to the organic model, an organization can survey its environment. Information processing or the cognitive model is then used to interpret the results obtained from the survey and encourage the company to make a sensible decision (Mele, Pels, & Polese, 2010). The population theory or the organismic model fosters the competition of resources in the society.

Application to Project Management

Organizational Structure

In project management, organizational structure is defined as the hierarchy through which employees recognize their leaders that provides for the delegation of duties in a firm. The organizational structure permits the management of a company to organize tasks and allocate them to each worker successfully. It also enables the formulation of corporate policies, which members of the workforce adhere to and ensure that they consult when making decisions. The concept of CAS can be applied to organizational structures. As discussed in the analyzed article, CAS is effectively used to implement change in an enterprise. The management of a firm could have assigned different roles to different employees. However, there comes a time where shuffling is done, and new functions, which are alien to the staff members are imposed on them (Hall & Clark, 2010). For instance, in a project development, during the implementation phase, the tasks initially given in the planning phase may differ from the ones that the workers are asked to perform in the implementation stage. Employees may resist this change and feel like their workload has been increased. Nevertheless, when using CAS, staff understand that change is essential for the firm and they cooperate when the tasks are shuffled, and new ideas are introduced. CAS is also important for organizational structure in certain events such as downsizing and change of policies. It provides for the effective communication, and the message is conveyed to junior employees successfully.

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Learning and Development

These are significant concepts that one learns in a project management class. They allow an individual to diversify his/her mind and become aware that project management requires one to be vigilant and active in order to learn new items each day. The concept of change applies to learning and development as the person is introduced to new ideas and may be forced to abandon the knowledge that he/she had. The notion of CAS encourages the appearance of new ideas even when change is being implemented. Learning and development in a project occur when fresh perceptions are adopted and developed thereby promoting the acquirement of new skills (Jones & Brown, 2011). It enables the successful attainment of the company’s goals and objectives. As discussed, CAS enforces change in a firm, through the organizational structure or the duties imposed on employees. When the latter experience working on different tasks, they sharpen the skills in their specialized areas and develop new skills from other fields. The change allows the diversification of skills and ideas as individuals reveal that they have options to learn and develop. Then, training is provided for staff members to make sure that they do not feel as though the change is difficult for them to adopt.

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Understanding of Concepts and Ideas

Darwinian Landscape

Dooley presents new ideas and concepts that allow one to increase his/her knowledge of the aspect of complexity thinking. The interesting concept is the Darwinian landscape. Even though this topic has been utilized in different subjects but it has been ignored in the field of management. From the article, it is evident that the survival of the fittest theory used by Darwin can be applied to instigate change in an organization. Resources are scarce in the environment; therefore, companies have to compete in order to be ahead of their rivals (Dooley, 1997). In the CAS model, when change is introduced in the firm, it becomes easy for corporations to adapt to the environment and gain more resources. To enhance awareness of the concept by the reader, the article explains the variation-selection-retention model that arises from the implementation of the Darwinian Theory (Kezar, 2011). Through incentives and experiments in a company, variations occur in the business. The selection phase begins when the goals, criteria, and competition of the venture are analyzed through the corporate management. Variations that are considered significant for the enterprise are retained through such procedures as standardization, which in turn influence change.

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Autopoiesis

In the course of learning the history of CAS and how it appeared, the theory of autopoiesis is discussed. The latter explains the self-renewal ability of an organism or a system. The self-renewal procedure involves a system copying, replicating and maintaining itself. Hence, this theory is crucial in defining the self-organizing characteristic of the CAS model. An organization or a system will not organize itself successfully if it cannot maintain itself (Espinosa & Porter, 2011). The theory of autopoiesis indicates that a company needs to understand its needs and objectives in order to maintain itself efficiently. It also focuses on enhancing skills rather than business units, as it is evident that the employees are the ones responsible for causing change in the firm.

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Questions Article Generated

The article allows one to think critically about various aspects applied in project management. It also creates some questions that guide an individual towards a better understanding of the topic. The author concentrates on the application of the CAS model in organizations. It leaves one with the question concerning its effectiveness in project management. What is its importance in project management? Even though a company conducts project management, one should realize that it is a unit by itself. Change is necessary for project management since it enables the employees to enhance and upgrade their skills. However, the complexity of CAS may prove to be difficult for project managers to adopt and use with the purpose of inducing change in a project.

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From the article, one finds that a CAS model is self-organizing. Thus, this raises the question, which paradigm or phase of project management is self-organizing? The issue is important for managers with a large number of employees on their projects (Palmberg, 2009). A project can be considered chaotic, as each member will have different opinion to present. Project management is not a theory; therefore, it could be difficult to classify it as self-organizing.

The last question that should be regarded is the aspect of management. If the CAS model is self-organizing and can maintain itself, what is the role of the managers then? From the project management class, it is found that the role of managers in a project is to allocate duties and tasks as well as make sure that they are successfully performed (Hass, 2009). Therefore, it could be complicated to state the particular obligation of a manager in a project that maintains and organizes itself through its workforce.

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Conclusion

In summary, the CAS model is an interesting aspect of learning, as it explores how change can be successfully accepted in an organization. From the article, one explored the central themes such as chaos theory and chaotic dynamics and how they impact the CAS model. Further, the paradigms for management theories provide a reader with more knowledge on the topic. Consequently, understanding CAS is necessary for project management as it allows the smooth completion of a project while implementing change that enhances the acquisition of new skills of the employees.

 

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