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Subject Area: Electrical & Electronic Engineering
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Article citation: , (2011) "Awards for excellence", Kybernetes, Vol. 40 Iss: 1/2, pp. -
"The Norbert Wiener Award for Excellence: Complex versus complicated: the how of coping with complexity"
Institute of Management, University of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate and explain how distinct approaches to coping with complexity vary in their effectiveness. The different strategies are evaluated as to their respective capabilities of absorbing complexity. Virtuous versus vicious approaches are distinguished.
Design/methodology/approach - Based on two basic formulas for the calculation of variety, a measure of complexity, sensitivity analyses for different strategies are carried out. Recommendations for the how of coping with complexity are derived logically.
Findings - Strategies based on increasing the repertory of behaviour through enhancing the potential states of the elements (component agents) in a system are superior to strategies which pursue an increase in the number of elements.
Practical implications - The imperative to increase the repertory of behaviour and to avoid responses to complexity through complication constitute an approach that leads to an overshoot of eigen-complexity and consequently to inefficiencies or ineffectiveness.
Originality/value - This contribution sheds light on misinterpretations of Ashby's law of requisite variety. The insights derived from the analysis can help real-life organizations to avoid failures and reap substantial strategic advantages.
Keywords: Behaviour, Complexity theory, Cybernetics
Kybernetes, Volume 38 Number 1/2, 2009, pp. 83-92. Editor: Brian Howard Rudall
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