Volume 4, Issue 1, 2004
Organisation and Decision Processes
Howard Harris, Saadia Carapiet, Chris Provis
‘Adaptive and Agile Organisations’
Do They Actually Exist?
Management are increasingly using adaptive and agile organisations as a means to competitive advantage. In these organisations there is a flux in membership of work groups and organisation in response to external environment. The theory of complex adaptive systems suggests that the application of a few simple rules can lead to complex structures. But is there a relationship between the members of the organisation? Do they constitute a group, or an organisation? The paper advances a number of reasons why adaptive and agile enterprises may not be organisations in the accepted sense of the word. Implications are drawn with respect to the current demands for accountability and for the application of management processes and management development techniques which are based on groups.
The paper draws on the work of Amelie Rorty on identity, Margaret Gilbert on groups and Chris Provis on trust. It is also informed by activity in the multi-national SYMPHONY project, which is developing management tools for networked enterprises which have a high knowledge component in the value stream and operate in rapidly changing and uncertain environments.