complexity and chaos theory

complexity and chaos theory (chaotic phenemena)

the origins of thinking on complexity and chaos can be found in 19th-century social theory (Herbert SPENCER on the evolution of societies from simple to complex structure through the processes of specialization and compounding), in 20th-century computer modelling and fractal geometry and in attempts to extend conceptualization of cause-effect relationships to include complex phenomena such as wave and cloud formation and the patterns of movement of people in crowds. Complexity tells us that what may appear disorganized at one level of view can be revealed to have order when the perspective is extended. Examples of this would be the straight line which can be made as a result of ‘best fit’ between points on a graph, the mapping of a coastline, or the patterns that emerge when a simple mathematical equation, as in the case of the Mandelbrot set, is repeated many times. Complexity points to the different types of causality that are found in linear or simple systems and nonlinear or dynamic systems. When linear systems are nudged off centre they stay off centre. Nonlinear or dynamic systems are self-centring though such regulatory systems as feedback, the autonomic nervous system in the human body and fuzzy logic in the design of some machines. Simple linear systems can produce complex systems and complex systems can function under a wide range of conditions (look at the diversity of the human diet in history and in different cultures today). Important concepts for understanding complex systems are the impact of randomness and sensitivity to, or dependence on, initial conditions. So complexity theory challenges three important assumptions in conventional science: that simple systems behave in simple ways, that complex systems have complex causes and that different systems behave differently Complexity instead makes three arguments: that simple systems can behave in complex ways, that complex systems can have simple causes and that different systems can be driven by the same principles and behave similarly The epistemological significance of complexity theory for sociology lies in the questions it poses about how we model the real world through our mathematical and conceptual versions of it. First, if we make our models complex in order to be faithful to reality does this aid understanding? If we make them simple in order to make them easier to handle or to aid understanding how do we avoid unproductive reductionism? Finally, how do we conceive of the relationship between the model and our realities?
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
Some individual subjects addressed include nonlinear correlation of stock and commodity indices in emerging and developed markets, managing fisheries in light of complexity and chaos theory, and measuring nonlinear fluctuations in power plants.
In this paper, we develop themes from complexity and chaos theory that help to explain entrepreneurship.
His subsequent discussion shows a recognition that this usage differs from that in complexity and chaos theory. Chance in complexity and chaos theory means the influence of a large number of independent factors, so large a number that useful prediction from any manageable sub-set is unrealistic.
The application of complexity and chaos theory to organizational studies has advanced since Bouchihki's publication.
Having now introduced themes from complexity and chaos theory, we would like to add a note of caution and introduce a caveat.
The mutual influence among the development of Latin American economies during this period, the strengthening of the Cuban immigrant business community, and the development of other Latin American-oriented businesses in Miami appears to have created the kind of self-reinforcing, positive feedback spiral among a small number of factors and this is reflected in complexity and chaos theory.
Ordered from the most applied to the most basic, these are the literatures about Cuban entrepreneurs, immigrant entrepreneurship in general, complexity and chaos theory in organization studies, and organizational research methods.
Attention to detail and application of the model within a very localized context helped give a sense of whether themes from complexity and chaos theory are worth pursuing even more systematically in future research.