Using chaos theory as a framework to explain the nature of complexity in contemporary organizations
Purpose: The main purpose of this article is to explain the complex nature of contemporary business organizations, using the visual narrative of Cube (1997) as a metaphor. The article attempts to answer two main questions: 1) what makes contemporary business organizations complex? and 2) what research approach could provide an alternative explanation on the complexity of contemporary organizations? Design/ Methodology/ Approach: As the answer to the second question, the paper follows a metaphor analysis approach. It is suggested in the analysis that a contemporary business organization can be seen metaphorically as a group of people trapped in a cubic maze that consists of many small cubes (the enterprise system) - some of these cubes in the maze have deadly traps, as in Cube (1997). A business organization’s existence and functioning have many characteristics similar to the group’s journey through cubes in the maze. Chaos theory is used as a foundation to support arguments made using Cube(1997) as a metaphor. To analyze organizations, three binary oppositions are used: 1) self-interest versus organizational objectives, 2) stability versus instability, and 3) internal and external environments.Findings: The article makes three main claims: 1) being a member of a business organization is a result of a social choice (choice of a system), rather than an individual choice, 2) organizations are unstable entities, and dependence among organizational members results in organizational members working as a group, and 3) changes in internal and external environments make strategies irrational and irreversible. Organizations exist as long as individuals in organizations move forward by choosing the safest way. Originality: This article provides an alternative perspective to understand contemporary business organizations. As opposed to verbally defining organizations, a context is suggested to understand complexities in organizations. Moreover, this study adds to the growing body of literature that uses films to understand contemporary organizations.
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