Organizations in a Non-Linear, Unpredictable World

Pirjo Ståhle, Leif Åberg


Globalisation, new information technology, universal networking, the non-linearity of things, and environmental turbulence are changing strategies of managing and succeeding. This paper examines non-linear phenomena and their practical consequences from an organizational perspective by using three concepts: Malcolm Gladwell’s tipping point, Ilya Prigogine’s self-organization, and Algirdas Greimas’s semiotic square. Tipping points occur at all system levels, determining for instance how fashion trends catch on, how health campaigns succeed, and how new ideas spread like wildfire. Self-organization refers to the kind of consciousness, action and intelligence that is manifested in the community’s rather than the individual’s actions, such as swarm intelligence in the animal world. Insight into the dynamics of change is supplemented by the semiotic square, which sheds light on how organizations can succeed. Organizations must have buffers, a surplus of resources to which they can resort whenever something unexpected happens, and they must be attuned to change and have access to tools that promote open, confidence-building communication.

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Business and Management Studies     ISSN 2374-5916 (Print)     ISSN 2374-5924 (Online)

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