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An introduction to complexity in Management Science: a personal view Mike Pidd Management Science

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Presentation on theme: "An introduction to complexity in Management Science: a personal view Mike Pidd Management Science"— Presentation transcript:

1 An introduction to complexity in Management Science: a personal view Mike Pidd Management Science

2 2 Starting points Complexity? Definitions Occams razor Emergence Models Soft systems methodology

3 3 Management science? An oxymoron? Interested in intervention and improvement as well as understanding (See: Pidd M. (2003) Tools for thinking: modelling in management science (2 nd ed) Wiley, Chichester)

4 4 Some definitions of complexity Commonsense –A function of the number of elements in some whole, and of their interactions IEEE, 1990 –the degree to which a system or component has a design or implementation that is difficult to understand and verify Mikulecky, 2003 –the property of a real world system that is manifest in the inability of any one formalism being adequate to capture all its properties Its complicated & out there! Some of its in here!

5 5 Occams razor 1.Do not multiply entities unnecessarily 2.Prefer a simple theory if two theories offer the same explanatory power But … some questions … How do we know what is necessary? What type of explanation do we want? Whos giving this instruction? Whos obeying this instruction?

6 6 Emergence 1: open systems Permeable boundaries More than one component Internal organisation Behave

7 7 Emergence 2: what is it? Emergent behaviour: two views 1.Is what causes us to see a system –May be out there –May be in the eye of the beholder –We cant/wont see what we wont/cant see 2.Is a property of the elements and their interactions

8 8 Checklands soft systems methodology Two core notions for coping with complexity The methodology of enquiry can be systemic –Cyclic, dynamic, open system Core metaphor: human activity system –Artefacts –Purposefully designed wholes that include human action and intent –The importance of worldview –Lead to conceptual models

9 9 Using models to cope with complexity: 2 views 1.Representations –external and explicit representations of part of reality as seen by the people who wish to use that model to understand, to change, to manage and to control that part of reality –need to be validated and tested 2.Devices to support debate –transitional objects –embodying beliefs and opinions –explicit for debate and scrutiny

10 10 Models as tools for thinking Reality Complex Ill-defined Abstract Model Simple Defined Concrete Conceptualisation Extract Create Test Reflect

11 11 Bringing it all together: complexity in management science Complexity: may be –a function of external complication –or of internal uncertainty Emergence: may be –what brings a system to our notice –or a function of its internal structure and operation Coping with complexity: requires –Rigorous methodology –Sensible use of models as tools for thinking


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