Article

Approaching Business and the Environment with Complexity Theory

David Levy and Benyamin Lichtenstein

in The Oxford Handbook of Business and the Natural Environment

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199584451
Published online January 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199584451.003.0032

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

 Approaching Business and the Environment with Complexity Theory

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This article explores the contribution of complexity theory to the understanding of business and the natural environment (B&NE), concentrating on climate change. It uses the term “complexity” to refer to a group of concepts derived from systems theory, including complex dynamic systems theory, chaos, and emergence, among other disciplines. In addition, some of the features of the business interface with the climate system that present challenges for timely and effective governance are explained. It also investigated the difficulties of intervening in complex dynamic systems, including problems of collective action, unintended consequences, and inherent limitations on effective management. The theory of emergence provides understanding of how dynamic systems generate order and exhibit “self-organization”. Life-cycle analyses can help identify resource synergies among partner firms. The development of modeling tools to represent the complexities of business-environment interactions offers substantial potential for future research.

Keywords: complexity theory; business; natural environment; climate change; governance; management; life-cycle analyses

Article.  8036 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Business Strategy

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