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BOUNDARIES, HIERARCHIES AND NETWORKS IN COMPLEX SYSTEMS

Paul Cilliers
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Paul Cilliers: Department of Philosophy, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa

International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), 2001, vol. 05, issue 02, 135-147

Abstract: Models used in the understanding of complex entities, like organisations, are problematic in several respects. After an introductory discussion of this problem, this paper addresses the problems associated with the boundaries of complex systems, arguing that although boundaries do exist, they have a peculiar nature. Similarly, it is argued that although hierarchies form an important part of the structure of complex systems, they are not clearly defined or "nested" as is often assumed. Hierarchies should also in principle be transformable in a viable system. Finally, the usefulness of network models is investigated. The conclusion is that although network models have a structure similar to that of complex systems, they are subject to the same limitations all models of complexity are faced with. A few implications for our understanding of organisations are mentioned.

Keywords: complexity; hierarchies; boundaries; modelling; networks; organisations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2001
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DOI: 10.1142/S1363919601000312

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