(Industrial Society, 1998, ISBN 1 85835 899 X, £12.99 (£16.20 inc. p&p*)
Is management an art or a science? Pass. Can management practice be enhanced by understanding concepts from the leading edge of science?
Yes, with the aid of this delightful book which proposes that we can learn from science, but that, in the real world of organisations as complex adaptive systems, there are no easy answers. Complexity, the edge of chaos, possibility space, perspectives, multiple truths, ecosystems, fitness landscape - this is fascinating stuff, showing the use and value of key concepts from complexity theory in the management of organisations today.The author, Arthur Battram, who is an organisational learning adviser, suggests we think of the book as a Rough Guide to Complexity. It is written with a conversational style suited to a guidebook for travellers and with each entry divided into Relevance,Translation, Application, and References. It walks its own talk by allowing readers to make their own journey through the text, marking cross references with symbols, and using illustrations and diagrams generously.
Some of the ideas seem closer to arts than science, including the use of metaphor to link ideas in new ways so that new knowledge can emerge; and ?memes?, the cultural equivalent of genes, invented to explain the transmission of culture from person to person via books, speech, television and other communication media.
There is a wealth of new ideas as well as explanations of things we already know. If you are interested in learning, communications, organisations, and understanding the world we live in, then this is a very rewarding read.
Madeline Hutchins is Director of SAM?s books
SAM's Books is a specialist supplier of books for arts and professionals.
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