Embracing Complexity

Strategic Perspectives for an Age of Turbulence

by Jean G. Boulton, Peter M. Allen, Cliff Bowman

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780199565252
  • 9780191061479
The book describes what it means to say the world is complex and explores what that means for managers, policy makers and individuals.The first part of the book is about the theory and ideas of complexity. This is explained in a way that is thorough but not mathematical. It compares differing approaches, and also provides a historical perspective, showing how such thinking has been around since the beginning of civilisation. It emphasises the difference between a complexity worldview and the dominant mechanical worldview that underpins much of current management practice. It defines the complexity worldview as recognising theworld is interconnected, shaped by history and the particularities of context. The comparison of the differing approaches to modelling complexity is unique in its depth and accessibility.The second part of the book uses this lens of complexity to explore issues in the fields of management, strategy, economics, and international development. It also explores how to facilitate others to recognise the implications of adopting a complex rather than a mechanical worldview and suggests methods of research to explore systemic, path-dependent emergent aspects of situations.The authors of this book span both science and management, academia and practice, thus the explanations of science are authoritative and yet the examples of changing how you live and work in the world are real and accessible. The aim of the book is to bring alive what complexity is all about and to illustrate the importance of loosening the grip of a modernist worldview with its hope for prediction, certainty and control.

  • OUP Oxford; July 2015
  • ISBN: 9780191061479
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Embracing Complexity
  • Author: Jean G. Boulton; Peter M. Allen; Cliff Bowman
  • Imprint: OUP Oxford
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780199565252
  • 9780191061479

In The Press

In the social and physical sciences, complexity is everywhere, changing how we think and act. But how? This book provides an excellent overview both of the underlying concepts and also their implications for how we think about changein economics, organizations and international development. Highly recommended.


About The Author

Jean Boulton is a director, strategy consultant and part-time academic at both Bath and Cranfield universities. She teaches, consults, researches and writes about the implications of complexity thinking to management, research and policy development. She has been Chair of Sustain Ltd, Chair of Social Action for Health, a non-executive director of IOPP and Head of Engineering Operations for BAe Commercial Aircraft. She was previously a Senior Lecturer at CranfieldSchool of Management. She has consulted many blue chip companies and charities including Carillion, RBS, ICI, Lloyds TSB and Oxfam. Her background in theoretical physics coupled with her practical engagement in the fields of management and social research - both through academia, consulting, hands-onmanagement and working as a director and trustee - give her a multi-faceted, informed and practical perspective on the implications of embracing complexity.Peter Allen developed and ran the Complex Systems Research Centre in the School of Management at Cranfield University since the late 1990s. He has a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics and from 1970 to 1987 worked with Professor Ilya Prigogine at the Université Libre de Bruxelles on research that led on to the development of Complexity Science. He is an Editor in Chief of the Journal, Emergence: Complexity and Organization. He has written and edited several books in the field of complexity andsocio-economic modelling and published well over 200 articles in a range of fields including ecology, social science, urban and regional science, economics, systems theory, and physics. In 2011 he co-edited the Sage Handbook on Complexity and Management. He has been a consultant to DERA, the CivilContingencies Secretariat, Department of Trade and Industry, the Canadian Fishing Industry, Elf Aquitaine, the United Nations University, the European Commission and the Asian Development Bank.Cliff Bowman's research interests focus on the creation and capture of value, complexity, strategy processes and the development and leveraging of strategic assets. He has undertaken consulting assignments for a wide range of organizations and is the author of ten books and sixty articles. Cliff is a past Chairman of the European Case Clearing House, was Faculty Dean of Cranfield School of Management from 1998 to 2006, and holds two non-executive directorpositions.

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780199565252
  • 9780191061479