Complex Responsive Processes in Organizations: Learning and Knowledge Creation (Complexity and Emergence in Organizations)

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9780415249188: Complex Responsive Processes in Organizations: Learning and Knowledge Creation (Complexity and Emergence in Organizations)
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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.

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Over the past decade, practicing managers and organizational theorists have been drawing attention to the centrality of information and knowledge in economic and social processes, the so-called "knowledge economy". This is reflected in the popularity of notions of learning, sense-making, knowledge creation, knowledge management and intellectual capital in organizations. More recently, attention has been drawn to emotional intelligence as an important management skill in these processes of learning and knowledge creation.

Complex Responsive Processes in Organizations argues that most of the literature on these matters, and the ways in which most practitioners now talk about them, reflect systems thinking and that its information processing view of knowledge creation is no longer tenable. The purpose of this book is to develop a different perspective, that of Complex Responsive Processes of relating, which draws on the complexity sciences as a source domain for analogies with human action. This alternative perspective places self-organizing interaction, with its intrinsic capacity to produce emergent coherence, at the center 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. 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. From this perspective, it makes nosense to talk about measuring intellectual capital and managing knowledge.

About the Author:

Ralph Stacey is Professor of Management and Director of the Complexity and Management Centre at the University of Hertfordshire, and a member of the Institute of Group Analysis. He is also consultant to managers at many levels accross a range of organizations and the author of a number of books and articles on strategy and complexity theory in management.

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