Document Type

Thesis

Publication details

Brown, CS 2004, 'Complex adaptive systems and organisational understanding in the Royal Australian Air Force', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright CS Brown 2004

Abstract

The dissertation contends that an instrument developed through using a model of complex adaptive systems as a generative metaphor will assist members of an organisation to better understand their organisation. Using an action research methodology, six Air Force Management Services Teams were exposed to six overlapping attributes of complex adaptive systems through focus group workshops with an aim to determine whether they, as experienced management consulting practitioners, saw value to themselves and their Air Force clients of using aspects of complex adaptive systems for organisational understanding. The overlapping attributes of complex adaptive systems were distilled from the literature reviewed. Whereas the focus group workshop participants found the attributes valuable in understanding the dynamics of organisational behaviour, they found the new way of thinking challenging on a number of different perspectives. Some aspects of the Air Force organisation, like its high levels of organisational experience, will make the introduction to and use of complex adaptive systems thinking simpler, while other aspects of the Air Force organisation, like its sensitivity to complex adaptive systems terminology, will make the introduction and use of complex adaptive systems more challenging. Notwithstanding the challenges, both the complex adaptive systems model, and the use of action research were found to be useful ways of introducing organisations to complex adaptive systems thinking.

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