Conditioned emergence: a dissipative structures approach to transformation

Robert Macintosh, Donald Maclean

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    170 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper presents a novel framework for the management of organizational transformation, defined here as a relatively rapid transition from one archetype to another. The concept of dissipative structures, from the field of complexity theory, is used to develop and explain a specific sequence of activities which underpin effective transformation. This sequence integrates selected concepts from the literatures on strategic change, organizational learning, and business processes; in so doing, it introduces a degree of prescriptiveness which differentiates it from other managerial interpretations of complexity' theory Specifically, it proposes a three-stage process: first, the organization `conditions' the outcome of the transformation process by articulating and reconfiguring the rules which underpin its deep structure; second, it takes steps to move from its current equilibrium; and, finally, it moves into a period where positive and negative feedback loops become the focus of manager
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)297-316
    JournalInternational Journal of Strategic Property Management
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


    • INDUSTRIAL management, ORGANIZATIONAL learning, KNOWLEDGE management, STRATEGIC planning, INDUSTRIAL research, ORGANIZATIONAL change, BUSINESS planning, MANAGEMENT research, SOCIAL systems, business process reengineering, complexity theory, dissipative structures, organizational learning, transformation


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