The Chaos Frontier - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780750601399, 9781483164021

The Chaos Frontier

1st Edition

Creative Strategic Control for Business

Authors: Ralph D. Stacey
eBook ISBN: 9781483164021
Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
Published Date: 15th May 1991
Page Count: 422
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The Chaos Frontier: Creative Strategic Control for Business presents the effective ways of managing and controlling innovative organizations in chaotic times. This book discusses the theories of chaos and self-organization developed by mathematicians, biologists, chemists, and physicists.

Organized into four parts encompassing 13 chapters, this book begins with an overview of the scientific sense of chaos as those systems driven by certain types of perfectly orderly laws capable of behaving in a manner that is random and therefore inherently unpredictable over the long term. This text then examines the key elements that managers need to incorporate into a dynamic model of managing if they are to design effective actions in a turbulent business world. Other chapters consider organizational effectiveness and the ability to sustain competitive capability. The final chapter deals with creative interaction between a business and the other organizations and people that are its environment.

This book is a valuable resource for managers.

Table of Contents


1 Introduction

Who this Book is Addressed to

Mixed Success in Coping with Turbulent Change

Defective Understanding of Business Dynamics

The Importance of Explanatory Models for Action

What Managers Say About Strategic Choice

The Problem with Visions and Plans

Thinking About the Strategy Process

Outline of the Following Chapters

Part One The Concerns of Dynamic Management

2 Goals, Behavior and Change

The Future is a Combination of Change Situations

Open-Ended Change, Ambiguous Goals, Confusion and Anxiety

Unpredictability and Recognizable Patterns

Conclusion: What a Dynamic Model Should Explain About Change

3 Relationship Between Control form and Change Situation

Short Interval Control for Closed Change

Long Term Planning for Contained Change

What Form for Open-Ended Change?

Simultaneous Application of Different Control Forms

Conclusion: What a Dynamic Model Should Explain About Control

4 The Mechanisms Driving Business Development

Business Organizations are Feedback Mechanisms

The Dynamic of Business Feedback Mechanisms

The Dynamic of the Decision-Making Process

Conclusion: What a Dynamic Model Should Explain About Business Development

Part Two Today's Most Prominent Management Models 101

5 Rational Planning, Entrepreneurial Enthusiasm and Political Power

Rational Explanations of Management and Organization: The Mechanistic Approach

Entrepreneurial Explanations of Management and Organization: The Organic Approach

Political Explanations of Management and Organization: The Power Approach

Conclusion: Today's Models Focus on Machine-Like Order

6 Today's Models: A Limited Understanding of Management Dynamics

Feedback, Small Changes, Virtuous and Vicious Circles

Operation in Non-Equilibrium States

What Organizations do when they do not Know what they are Doing

The Dynamic of Organizational Politics

Organizations Learn About the Process of Learning

Conclusion: What Managers Actually Do

Part Three Scientific Chaos and Dynamic Management

7 What Scientific Chaos Means for Managers

Nature of Scientific Chaos

Principal Features of Scientific Chaos

Chaos: A More Useful Model of Business Dynamics

Conclusion: Explaining Intertwined Order and Disorder

8 Implications of Chaos for Controlling and Developing a Business

The Techniques Break Down and Planning Fails in Openended Change

Visions of the Future may be Dangerous Fantasies

Trial-and-Error Action Cannot Secure Stability

Building Strategic Issue Agendas is the Key to Strategic 'Control'

New Models for Each New Situation

Conclusion: Rethinking the Approach to Strategic 'Control'

9 Strategic 'Control' is Organizational Learning

Thinking and Learning Step-by-Step to a Goal

Chaos Provides another Perspective

Thinking and Learning in Closed Situations

Thinking and Learning in open-Ended Situations

Organizational Learning Takes Place in Groups

Organizational Learning: Personality Composition and Group Dynamics

Strongly Shared Cultures Block Group Learning

Learning to Learn in Real Time

Conclusion: Innovative Strategic Choice Depends on Group Learning

10 Strategic 'Control' is Spontaneous Political Choice

Power Form and Group Dynamic

Political Interactions as Feedback Loops

Business Political Systems and Chaos

Unpredictable Political Choices

Recognizable Patterns in Political Choices

Structure and the Distribution of Power

Conclusion: Strategic Choice Depends on Political Context

11 Strategic 'Control' is Creative Exploration

Detecting and Selecting Open-Ended Issues

Amplifying Issues and Breaking Symmetries: Champions and Special Interest Groups

Amplifying Issues and Breaking Symmetries: Experimenting with Open-Ended Issues

Fragile State of Consensus and Commitment

Conclusion: How Organizations Proceed when they do not Know what they are Doing

Part Four Dynamic Management Choice and Action

12 Chaos: A Different Perspective for Action

A Chaos Explanation of Managing and Organising

Explanations of Strategic Choice Compared

The Model Determines the Action

Conclusion: A Different Model for Designing Action

13 Management Intervention and Strategic 'Control'

Changing the Models for Designing Action

Moving from Managing Outcomes to Managing Process

Managers and Strategic 'Control'

Management Intervention

The Message for Managers

Conclusion: Establishing Conditions for Effective Strategic Control


A Scientific Chaos: A New Way of Thinking About Dynamics

Problem of Turbulence

Traditional Approach to Explaining Turbulence

New Approach to Turbulence: Chaos

Chaos is not a Mathematical or Philosophical Curiosity

Why Scientific Chaos is a Revolution in the Way we Think

B The Simple Mathematics and Exciting Geometry of Chaos

Simple Relationships and Decision Rules can Yield Random Behavior

The Order within the Disorder of Chaos: Fractal Geometry

The Order within the Disorder of Chaos: Self-Similarity

The Mandelbrot Set: Algorithms and Undecidability

The Mandelbrot set: The Boundary Between an Organization and its Environment

C Order from Chaos

D The language of Chaos: A Glossary of Terms



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About the Author

Ralph D. Stacey

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