Dr. Tomas Backstrom, Malardalen University, Sweden
Emergence and sustainability in a decentralized organization

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Continuous development is a key issue for long term competitiveness and sustainability of organizations on a changing global market. It has been known for decades that organizations with loose and flexible structure, and more horizontal than vertical information flow containing exchange of experiences rather than instructions have better chances to survive in a changing environment (Burns and Stalker 1961). We believe that decentralization is one way to reach these characteristics, that there is a need for development of new theories concerning organization and management to understand and be able to manage such organizations, and that complexity theory is a good base for such theories. In this paper we will show some results from on-going research studying the sustainability of a decentralized company using emergence as a perspective of understanding.

Tomas Backstrom, is professor of innovation science. He is leader of the innovation management research at Malardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden. His research deals with creativity in groups and organisations, with a special focus on communication and leadership. It is often performed in cooperation with organizations characterised by decentralisation and distributed responsibility, where emerging structures are of high importance. Complex systems theory is used as a meta-theoretical base.


Adams . Backstrom . Benbrahim . Bianconi . Budden . Gaudiano . Ghanea . Hidalgo . Novikova . Park . Zulauf . West