Organization Management Journal


Complexity theory is receiving increasing attention in both academic and popular literature as a potential management tool. As momentum gathers surrounding its popularity in practical management, complexity theory is poised to become a management ‘fad’, and potentially an influential paradigm for the future. However, much of the literature concerning complexity theory contains inconsistent terminology and a lack of operationally empirical definitions. This has made it difficult for researchers to specify empirical questions in order to frame complexity research, and for practitioners to acquire the key principles for implementation. It has also opened a Pandora’s Box of commentaries which proclaim that complexity theory is a new management panacea. This paper provides a critical account of the utility of complexity theory as a management tool, and concludes that while a number of metaphors and principles might suggest useful ways of thinking about management, the concept is neither new nor a panacea, and practitioners are urged toward caution.