Four types of emergence: a typology of complexity and its implications for a science of management

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Marijn Meijering

Authors: B. B. Lichtenstein, B. McKelvey

Publication Year: 2011


Journal: International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management

Volume: 1

Issue: 4

Categories: Adaptive Organization, Organization and the Environment Relationship


Complexity science has the potential to explain emergence; unfortunately most management applications of complexity rarely define emergence. We develop a typology that defines four increasingly demanding definitions of emergence, and use this typology to organise a review of the complexity literature, focusing on computational models that have been utilised by management scholars. We generate propositions addressing the value of emergence and complexity for integrating theory and practise in the field. Self-organisation and emergence offer methods for integrating a variety of management frameworks, allowing researchers to draw together some of the disparate threads of management theory and practise. An expansion of ‘emergence’ processes in organisations fosters adaptive bottom-up innovations and change.


Marijn Meijering