ADAPTIVENESS IN HUMAN SOCIAL ORGANISATION: Michael Church (1990s?)

Time and again I find myself coming back to this paper (even though I have many quibbles with it) – I think it is quite brilliant, opening a lot of pathways.

 

Source: ADAPTIVENESS IN HUMAN SOCIAL ORGANISATION:

 

ADAPTIVENESS IN HUMAN SOCIAL ORGANISATION:

SOME GUIDING PRINCIPLES

by

Michael Church

 

 

“…it is impossible to represent the organising principles of a higher level by the laws governing its isolated particulars.”

Michael Polanyil (1)

“Those who are obsessed with practice, but have no science, are like a pilot setting out with no tiller or compass,

 who will never know for certain where he is going.”

Leonardo Da Vinci c. 1470 (59)

 

Abstract

In a world that is becoming increasingly complex, the need to develop a new paradigm of organisation and management is widely recognised. One approach has been to view organisations as complex adaptive systems (CAS); it has been found, repeatedly, that important behaviours of different kinds of CAS can be described simply – the basis of the development of the science of complexity. So far, no set of principles have been proposed to explain what might make any form of human social organisation, more, or less, adaptive; most theorising has been limited to the weaker

and sometimes misleading explanatory levels of metaphor and analogy. In this paper it is suggested that there is an underlying order in the universe, reflected in the phenomena of discontinuity, levels of order, emergence, autonomy and coherence. By understanding this underlying order, six systemic principles can be identified to explain the organisational basis of the unique ability of living systems to respond and adapt to, learn from, and shape a complex environment. It is then shown how these six principles can be applied literally to understand and shape adaptiveness in any human social organisation; two further principles are also identified, necessary to take account of the singular qualities of human beings. Three of these principles – level specific processes, level specific information, and values – are explored in more detail in this paper.

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