H. & Shaw, Christopher D. 1992. Dynamics: The Geometry of Behaviour. (2nd
ed) Redwood City, Ca: Addison-Wesley.
A pictorial introduction to dynamics, state spaces, attractors and
so on. Not an easy read but great for those who hate maths and have a little perseverance.
Bak, Per 1997. How
Nature Works: The Science of Self-Organized Criticality. Oxford: University Press.
Racy and opinionated book, offering a particular perspective on
complex systems. His experiments with sand piles lead to links between avalanches,
dinosaur extinctions, stock market prices and many other phenomena in a state of
1997. Dynamics of Complex Systems. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.
Highly technical account of some approaches to modelling complexity.
1998. Corporate DNA: Learning from Life. Boston: Butterworth Heinemann.
Drawing on perspectives from genetics and complexity, Ken Baskin
looks at organisational change
1999. Navigating Complexity: The Essential Guide to Complexity Theory in Business and
Management. London: Industrial Society.
Based on Arthur's earlier "Complexicon", this
book gives a good introduction to complexity concepts and to their possible application to
1997 (1996). The Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter. London:
An individual attempt to use systems thinking and complexity to
offer a new perspective on the universe. Thought-provoking and accessible.
Casti, John L.
1994. Complexification: Explaining a Paradoxical World Through the Science of Surprise.
A popular mathematical look at some aspects of complexity.
1998. Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems. London:
An interesting look at complexity from a philosophical perspective.
Cilliers makes links between some approaches to complexity and the post-structuralism of
John Henry III 2000, The Biology of Business. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
An anthology of complexity theory applied to business. A bit patchy
(the 'contribution' from Brian Arthur was actually given as a talk in 1994). I found the
contributions from Andy Clark and Philip Anderson particularly interesting.
& Stewart, Iain 1995 (1994). The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a
Complex World. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Written by a reproductive biologist and a mathematician, this book
gives both a popular introduction to aspects of complexity and also introduces some new
thinking on the subject by the authors.
Critchley, Bill 1998. "The Role of a Change Agent." in Philip Sadler
(ed) Management Consultancy: A Handbook of Best Practice. London:Kogan Page.
Gives an account of a complexity-based intervention Critchley did
with Patricia Shaw (q.v.).
Predrag 1984. Universality in Chaos. Bristol: Adam Hilger.
Containes reprints of some of the seminal works in the development of
chaos theory, including papers by Lorenz, May, Feigenbaum, Crutchfield and Ruelle. Not for
C. 1995. Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.
Dennett gives a philosophical perspective on Darwinism. The book includes a good
exposition of Richard Dawkins' notion of 'memes'.
Eve, Raymond A.,
Horsfall, Sara & Lee, Mary E. (eds) 1997. Chaos, Complexity & Sociology: Myths,
Models & Theories. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage.
An anthology of papers, growing out of an Internet discussion group,
which concentrates on the relationship between complexity theory and the social sciences.
Geert, Paul van
1994. Dynamic Systems of Development: Change Between Complexity & Chaos.
New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Offers a complex systems approach to issues in developmental
psychology. A really useful feature of this book is the large number of examples of worked
models which you can run on your spreadsheet (Lotus 1-2-3 is used but it's fairly easy to
translate the into other formats). Being able to play with dynamical models can give a
real insight into chaotic systems.
Geuss, Arie de 1998. "Planning as Learning". Havard
Business Review March-April.
Arie de Geuss was head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell. In this
paper he is concerned with planning as an aid to adaptive learning. He also introduces the
notion of consultant as transitional object! Scenario planning was developed at Shell and
it is an approach which fits better with complexity perspectives than most traditional
1997 (1994). How the Leopard Changed its Spots: The Evolution of Complexity.
Brian Goodwin is a biologist whose views are considered a bit
heretical by orthodox neo-Darwinists such as Richard Dawkins. This book looks at
complexity from a biological and evolutionary perspective.
Holland, John H.
1998. Emergence: From Chaos to Order. Reading, Mass: Helix.
Hollands latest book. I found it tougher-going than
Hidden Order. He advocates the use of computer models to study emergent
phenomena and shows some of his thinking about generalised models.
Holland, John H.
1995. Hidden Order. Reading, Mass: Helix.
Holland is a computer scientist who has developed models of the ways
in which interactions between agents in a complex adaptive system might work. His work has
been influential although there is little reference in this book to organisational
H. Thomas & Broms, Anders 2000, Profit Beyond Measure: Extraordinary Results
Through Attention to Work and People. London: Nicholas Brealey.
Somewhat disappointing book which gives some interesting
information on Toyota and Scania. The attempt to link their practices with complexity
theory is weak.
1996 (1995). At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Complexity.
Like John Holland, Stuart Kauffman is connected with the Santa Fe
Institute, one of the leading centres for the study of complexity. A well-written book,
though not an easy read, it follows Kauffmans struggle to discover the conditions
for emergence to occur at the edge of chaosorder for free, as Kauffman
& Allison, Mary Ann 1998. The Complexity Advantage: How the Science of Complexity
can Help Your Business Achieve Peak Performance. New York: Business Week Books.
An interesting attempt to apply complexity to
organisationsalbeit in a rather American business book way. There is
some interesting good stuff here, together with some provocative speculations, but the
overall effect is rather prescriptive and mechanistic.
1999 (2nd ed). Complexity: Life on the Edge of Chaos. London: Phoenix.
A readable introduction to the subject, focusing especially on the
work and personalities of the Santa Fe Institute.
Michael D. 1997. The Praxis Equation: Design Principles for Intelligent Organisation.
Douglas IOM: Knowledge Based Development.
Mike McMaster develops a number of ideas from Kauffman, Holland and
others and considers their possible application to organisations.
Merry, Uri 1995.
Coping With Uncertainty: Insights from the New Sciences of Chaos, Self-Organization,
and Complexity. Westport, Conn: Praeger.
Somewhat disappointing book, although a good introductory piece. I
find Uris articles more interesting and stimulating.
1996. The Death of Competition: Leadership & Strategy in the Age of Business
Ecosystems. London: John Wiley.
Not about complexity as such, but applies ideas from ecology to
suggest new ways of strategic collaboration and development.
1999 (2nd ed). Images of Organization. Altamira Press.
The classic on metaphors as approaches to organisation development
and consulting. It includes a section on attractors and complexity but contains some
& Brandenburger, Adam 1996. Co-opetition. London: HarperCollins.
Drawing on perspectives from game theory, presents a win-win
approach to corporate strategy.
Price, If &
Shaw, Ray 1998. Shifting the Patterns: Breaking the Memetic Codes of Corporate
Performance. Chalford, Gloucs.: Management Books 2000.
Price & Shaw adopt a systemic approach to organisational change,
coupled with an emphasis on memesthe hypothetical genes of culture
proposed by Richard Dawkins.
Reynolds Craig W. 1987 "Flocks, Herds, and Schools: A Distributed
Behavioral Model" Computer Graphics, 21(4), July, pp. 25-34.
Craig Reynolds original paper on boids and flocking. It can also be
found via his web site - http://hmt.com/cwr/boids.html
- as can many Java implementations of flocking and swarming behaviours.
1999. Strategic Thinking and the New Science: Planning in the Midst of Chaos,
Complexity, and Change. New York: The Free Press.
Has a very limited understanding of complexity, with some major
misunderstandings of attractors. Interesting approach to planning, but little to do with
complexity. (The majority of Amazon reviewers seem to disagree with my rather negative
assessment of this book.)
Seel, Richard 2000, "Culture &
Complexity: New Insights into Organisational Change." Organisations &
People 7(2): 2-9
Ricardo 1993, Maverick!: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace.
Not a word about complexity theory but many of Semler's practices
seem to show an intuitive grasp of many of its principles. A great read, very easy to
absorb and will stimulate much thought.
Shaw, Patricia 1997. "Intervening in the Shadow Systems of
Organizations: Consulting from a Complexity Perspective." Journal of Organizational Change
Management 10(3): 235-250.
An account of a consulting assignment using perspectives developed
by Ralph Stacey.
1996. Complexity and Creativity in Organizations. San Francisco:
Stacey combines thinking from Santa Fe with the Kleinian
perspectives of the Tavistock Institute. Some good ideas but not easy to read.
1997 (2nd ed). Does God Play Dice?: The New Mathematics of Chaos.
A popular, but mind-stretching, introduction to the mathematics
behind chaos theory.
van der Heijden,
Kees 1996. Scenarios: The Art of Strategic Conversation. Chichester: John
Describes the approach to scenario planning developed during his
time at Shell.
H. 1977. Tools for Thought. London: Paladin.
A classic. Written before 'complexity' became fashionable it offers
some ways of thinking about complex systems.
Mitchell 1993 (1992). Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos.
An excellent popular account of complexity and its development.
Gives some good insights into the thinking behind complexity as well as the personalities
of those most deeply involved.
Margaret J. 1994 (1992). Leadership and the New Science: Learning About Organization
from an Orderly Universe. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
A much-cited but rather disappointing book. Deals mainly with chaos
theory rather than complexity.