Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 10 Iss: 3

Patricia Shaw suggests that consultants have tended to understand organizational systems in terms of organic metaphors of equilibrium adaptations between system and environment. The research paper examines the implications of ideas from the study of complex adaptive systems that suggest that living systems co-evolve to far-from-equilibrium conditions, “at the edge of chaos”.

The paper takes this perspective for understanding the interactions occurring simultaneously in an organization’s designed or formal network of relationships, and in its self-organizing or shadow networks. And it provides illustrations from the author’s consulting practice to suggest how such a perspective may inform OD intervention in organizational culture change.