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Complex Responsive Processes in Organizations

Book Description

The past decade has seen increasing focus on the importance of information and knowledge in economic and social processes, the so-called 'knowledge economy'. This is reflected in the popularity amongst practicing managers and organizational theorists of notions of learning, sense-making, knowledge creation, knowledge management and intellectual capital in organizations and more recently, of emotional intelligence as an important management skill. This insightful book:

  • argues that the information processing view of knowledge creation held by systems thinkers is no longer tenable
  • develops the alternative perspective of Complex Responsive Processes of relating, drawing on the complexity sciences as a source for analogies with human action
  • places self-organizing interaction at the centre of the knowledge creating process in organizations.

Learning and knowledge creation are seen as qualitative processes of power relating that are emotional as well as intellectual, creative as well as destructive, enabling as well as constraining, and the result is a radical questioning of the belief that organizational knowledge is essentially codified and centralized. Instead, organizational knowledge is understood to be in the relationships between people in an organization and has to do with the qualities of those relationships.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Complexity and Emergence in Organizations
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright Page
  5. List of illustrations
    1. Boxes
    2. Figures
  6. Series preface
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. 1: Introduction: can learning and knowledge creation in organizations really be managed?
    1. The historical context: extending the sphere of control
    2. Moving on from systems thinking
    3. Outline of the book
  9. Part I: The foundations of mainstream views on learning and knowledge creation in organizations: systems thinking
    1. 2: Mainstream thinking about learning and knowledge creation in organizations
      1. Transmitting knowledge between individuals, diffusing it across an organization, and storing it in explicit forms
      2. New knowledge
      3. Transmitting knowledge
      4. The individual level: mental models
      5. The social level: routines and sharing knowledge
      6. The split between the individual and the social
      7. A perspective on complexity and knowledge creation
      8. How mainstream thinking focuses attention: prescriptions for managing learning and knowledge
      9. Review of mainstream thinking: the learning/knowledge creating system and its underlying assumptions
      10. Constructing knowledge and making sense in communities of practice
      11. Unconscious processes as obstacles to learning and knowledge creation
      12. Autopoiesis, enactment, and sense-making in organizations
      13. Toward socially constructed perspectives on learning and knowledge creation in organizations
      14. What the developments and criticisms amount to
      15. Conclusion
    2. 3: Different levels of learning and knowledge creation in organizations: the individual and the social
      1. The endless debate about priority and primacy
      2. The individual and the social as separate mutually influencing levels
      3. Psychoanalysis and the connection between the individual and the social
      4. Critical realism and the connection between the individual and the social
      5. Institutionalism and the connection between the individual and the social
      6. Social constructionism and the connection between the individual and the social
      7. Moving away from the split between individual and social
      8. Conclusion
  10. Part II: Toward a complexity perspective: the emergence of knowledge in complex responsive processes of relating
    1. 4: The emergence of the individual and the social in communicative interaction
      1. Complex adaptive systems as a source domain for analogies of human acting and knowing
      2. Model interaction in the medium of digital symbols
      3. The evolution of mind, self and society
      4. Evolutionary psychology
      5. Mead’s theory of the evolution of mind, self and society
      6. Mindless cooperation and competition
      7. Mindful cooperation and competition
      8. The body and feelings
      9. Consciousness and meaning
      10. The social attitude
      11. The emergence of self
      12. Back to the complexity sciences as source domain for analogies
      13. The intrinsic ordering properties of interaction
      14. Fractal processes
      15. Habits and systems
      16. Knowledge creation
      17. Conclusion
    2. 5: Communicative action in the medium of symbols
      1. The importance of feelings: protosymbols
      2. Review: feelings, meaning and knowledge
      3. The importance of reflection-in-action: significant symbols
      4. Review: reflection-in-action
      5. The importance of abstract thinking: reified symbols
      6. Review: abstract thinking
      7. The multiple aspects of symbols
      8. Workshops at Inchcape
      9. Conclusion
    3. 6: The organization of communicative action: rule-based or self-organizing knowledge?
      1. Global rules of language and the structuring of communication
      2. Narrative forms of communication
      3. Local rules and the structuring of communication
      4. Communicative action as patterning process
      5. Mutual expectations of associative response
      6. Turn-taking sequences
      7. Sequencing, segmenting and categorizing actions
      8. Rhetorical devices
      9. The patterning effect of communicative action
      10. Public and private patterning of communication
      11. The importance of history
      12. The narrative-like patterning of experience
      13. The thematic patterning of experience
      14. Analogies from the complexity sciences
      15. Conclusion
    4. 7: The emergence of enabling constraints: power relations and unconscious processes
      1. Turn-taking, power and ideology
      2. The associative nature of turn-taking
      3. The dynamics of inclusion-exclusion and anxiety
      4. Categorizing and unconscious processes
      5. The dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in organizational life
      6. An example: the health care trust
      7. Fantasy and unconscious processes
      8. Conclusion
    5. 8: Organization as communicating in the living present: how knowledge emerges in complex responsive processes of relating
      1. Identity and difference: boundaries around a system or movements of process?
      2. Task boundaries
      3. The conscious-unconscious distinction
      4. The legitimate-shadow distinction
      5. The problem with boundaries
      6. Some examples
      7. Complex responsive processes of relating in the living present
      8. Themes patterning communicative interaction
      9. Conflict
      10. The stabilizing effect of clustering: an analogy from the complexity sciences
      11. Clustering in organizations
      12. The conversational life of an organization
      13. The tools of communicative interaction
      14. The local nature of communicative interaction
      15. Knowledge creation and complex responsive processes of interaction
      16. Conclusion
  11. Part III: Systems thinking and the perspective of complex responsive processes: comparisons and implications
    1. 9: Comparing systems thinking and the perspective of complex responsive processes
      1. From sender-receiver to responsive relating
      2. Comparing the two perspectives
      3. From storing to perpetually constructing memory
      4. From the individual-social split to individuals in social relationships
      5. From the individual tacit/unconscious to unconscious processes of relating
      6. From systems of language to the action of language
      7. Institutions, communication and power
      8. Dialogue and ordinary conversation in the living present
      9. Conclusion
    2. 10: The organizational implications of complex responsive processes of knowledge creation
      1. The limitations of mainstream prescriptions on knowledge management
      2. Measuring intellectual capital and managing knowledge
      3. Capturing knowledge in explicit form
      4. Hiring and retaining a professional elite
      5. Managing the quality of learning
      6. Spreading knowledge around the organization
      7. A major implication: accomplishing more by doing less
      8. Focusing attention on the evolution of knowledge as participative self-organization
      9. Ethics
      10. Communication and conversation in the living present
      11. Relationships and the paradox of control
      12. The importance of the ordinary
  12. Appendix: Autopoiesis: an inappropriate analogy for human action
    1. Autopoietic systems
    2. Comparisons with other systems theories
    3. Autopoiesis and theories of complexity
    4. Autopoietic systems and human action
  13. Bibliography