MGMT 8007M:Week 8: Foundations of Complexity Essay Assignment Paper

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MGMT 8007M:Week 8: Foundations of Complexity Essay Assignment Paper


MGMT 8007M: Complexity and Applied Systems Thinking | Week 8

The 21st century will be considered the century of complexity.

—Stephen Hawking

Complexity theory, while relatively new, has become an important area of study, given its applications to a wide variety of disciplines, such as ecosystems and social systems.

This week, you explore the nine interrelated research traditions of complexity theory, as well as offer your perspective on Holland’s properties and mechanisms of complex adaptive systems.

Learning Objectives

This week, you will:

  • Analyze Holland’s properties and mechanisms of complex adaptive systems
  • Analyze effects of models on leaders


You will develop the following skills:

  • Advanced systems thinking

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s recommended library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Recommended Readings

Brownlee, J. (2007). Complex adaptive systems [report]. Technical report 070302A. Retrieved from

Nelson, C. (2005). Tagging, aggregation, and social relational models. Proceedings of the 2005 Complexity Science and Educational Research Conference, pp. 31–43. Retrieved from

Smith, R. M., & Bedau, M. A. (2000). Is Echo a complex adaptive system? Evolutionary Computation, 8(4), 419–442.

Uhl-Bien, M., & Marion, R. (Eds.). (2008). Complexity leadership, part 1: Conceptual foundations. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

  • Chapter 2, “Conceptual Foundations of Complexity Science: Development and Main Constructs” (pp. 17–48)

Recommended Media

Holland, J. (2010). Building blocks and innovation [Video file]. Retrieved from

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 23 minutes.

Complexity theory, the field of study of complex systems, is a relatively recent theory. It is a broad theory encompassing nine research traditions—an aggregation of principles, concepts, theories, and disciplines. The nine interrelated complexity research traditions include: systems thinking, theoretical biology, nonlinear dynamical systems, graph theory, phase transitions, Turing’s morphogenetic model, synergetics, far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics, and complex adaptive systems.

Holland (1995) suggested that seven basics (four properties and three mechanisms) are common to all complex systems. See Brownlee (2007), Smith and Bedau (2000), and Holland’s (2010) TED Talk for details on these complex systems basics to respond to in this week’s Discussion.

As organizations are complex adaptive systems, understanding the abstract principles provide scholars with insights into all sorts of specific social systems, such as military organizations, corporations, nonprofits, cities, states, religions, and societies. Clippinger’s (1999) Kindle book, The Biology of Business, offers numerous examples of Holland’s framework with applications to business.

To prepare for this Discussion, review provided resources and those you can find to learn more about complex adaptive systems. Think of this Discussion as a classroom presentation, wherein you post your ideas and respond to questions.

By Day 3

Initial Post

Post an analysis of Holland’s properties and mechanisms of complex adaptive systems.

  • Use Holland’s framework to analyze an organization with which you are familiar as an example of a complex adaptive system.
  • Explain what is useful and/or problematic in Holland’s approach.
  • Explain how Holland’s ideas might inform your understanding of the structure of organizations and how that may support your ability to lead or manage effectively.
  • Be sure to review the Objectives listed for this week and refer to the Discussion Rubric as guidance for the criteria that will be used to assess your participation in this Discussion.

By Day 5

Responses to your Colleagues

Respond to at least two colleagues’ posts by adding to your colleagues’ ideas or positing a different perspective to your colleagues’ ideas.

Note: Include proper APA citations to support all statements by referencing sources from relevant peer-reviewed articles published within the last 5 years.


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