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organization as flux and transformation
• Gareth Morgan viewed an organization as
part of the ebb and flow of the whole
environment, with a capacity to self-
organize, change and self-renew in line
with a desire to have a certain identity.
• this idea was reflected earlier by
Heraclitus who address that the universe
as in a constant stage of flux embodying
features of both permanence and change.
Morgan's key beliefs about organizational
• Order naturally emerges out of chaos.
• Organizations have a natural capacity to
• Organizational life is not governed by the
rules of cause and effect.
• Key tensions are important in the
emergence of new ways of doing things.
• The formal organizational structure
(teams, hierarchies) only represents one
of many dimensions of organizational life
Four logics of organizational change by
• Chaos & complexity
• Mutual causality
• Dialectical change
• is the logic of self producing systems
• the theory which reflects that change
originates in the enviroment
• Autopiesis systems are closed loops
• Morgan refers an organization as self
referetial system that strive to shape
themselves in their own image.
• Maturana and Varela believe living
systems to be characterized by autonomy,
circularity and self-reference. These three
features allow the system to self-create or
self-renew. The aim of autopoietic
systems is to produce themselves and
therefore their own organization and
identity is paramount
• As organizations assert their identities,
they can initiate managerial transformation
in the social ecology to which they belong
and they can creat conditions that will
allow them to evolve along the
Implications of Autopoiesis
• Organizations are always attempting to achieve
‘self-referential closure… enacting their
environments as extensions of their own
• Many of the problems that organizations
encounter are a result of their attempt to
maintain a particular identity.
• Explanations of organizational evolution, change
and development must give attention to the
factors that shape patterns affecting
2.The logic of Chaos and complexity
• This is the view that complex non-linear
systems like organizations are
characterized by multiple systems of
interaction that are both ordered and
• Morgan states that organizations and
their environments to consider ‘chaos’ and
‘complexity’ to be parts of the same
interconnected (evolving) pattern.
• The theory states that‘random
disturbances can produce unpredictable
events and relationships.’ However,
‘coherent order always emerges out of the
randomness and surface chaos.’
5 ideas which Morgan suggest should
guide management of change
1. Rethinking what we mean by
‘organization’ – especially in terms of
hierarchy and control
2. Learning the art of managing and
3. Learning how to use small changes to
create large effects
4 Living with continuous transformation and
emergent order as a natural state of
5 Being open to new metaphors that can
facilitate processes of self-organization.
3.The logic of mutual causality
it states that Individuals are able to
influence system dynamics through
examining the interaction of positive and
negative feedback loops and shaping
these as necessary.
• Change, according to the theories outlined
above, does not unfold in a linear fashion
but via circular patterns (loops not lines).
4.The logic of Dialectical change
It is a truism that we cannot fully understand
something without knowing its opposite.
You cannot truly know the meaning of ‘hot’
unless you understand what ‘cold’ means.
• Principle 1 – Whenever one person
attempts to control another a process of
resistance undermines that attempt. ‘The
act of control itself sets up consequences
that work against its effectiveness.
• It accounts for processes of self generated
change whereby phenomena change
themselves as a result of tension with the
• Principle 2 – Negations of negations
retain something from that form, leading to
an evolution in patterns of control.
• It explains how change may become
developmental in the sense that each
negation rejects a previous form, yet also
retains something from that form.
Principle 3 – Changes in quantity lead
to changes in quality.
• It accounts for processes of revolutionary
change whereby one form of social
organization gives way to another.
strengths and weaknesses of the flux
and transformation metaphor
• Offers new understandings of the nature
and source of change.
• Offers new horizons of thought that can be
used to enrich our understanding of
management and leadership.
• Offers to leaders and managers a
powerful new perspective on their role in
facilitating emergent change.
1. Individuals that find comfort in controlling,
organizing, and predicting system change
may struggle with the concept of
2. The order of change only becomes
apparent with hindsight