Managing Complex Organizations In A Global WORLD

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 47
Oral Presentation
Bernd R. HORNUNG , University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Marburg, Germany
Modern business organizations are complex dynamic systems in a complex dynamic environment. This environment has the properties of an eco-system rather than those of a controlled and steered system. This holds for the economy and for its particular subsystems like the health care system, both constituting the complex and dynamic environment of internally complex organizations like hospitals. Such organizations often move at the edge of chaos and sometimes beyond. In their operations they need to be understood as actor-systems at different internal levels.

Examples from hospitals will illustrate management problems resulting from the combination of high internal and high external complexity and dynamics. This requires to clarify the concepts of both complexity and organization from a sociocybernetic perspective. A generic reference model of organizations will be used for the subsequent analysis.

Central to this is Luhmann´s(*) dictum, that only complexity can reduce complexity. It will be analyzed how this could be achieved by taking a sociocybernetic approach.

For this purpose concepts will be used like: open information, teamwork, task forces, leadership styles, subsystem autonomy, problem-orientation, staff-line organization, matrix organization, Web 2.0 leadership, organizational culture, mediation, etc.

Any activity, also informational, requires energy. Increasing the efficiency of an organization when facing complexity can be achieved by: (a) Changing objectives, (b) reorganizing structures, (c) reorganizing process, including management, (d) depleting stocks (material, financial, but also health and motivation of staff).

The strategy chosen has to be sustainable without unduly reducing the internal complexity of the organization, essential for its capacity to cope with external complexity. This both according to Luhmann and according to Ashby´s "Law of Requisite Variety".

Hypotheses will be presented, how a sociocybernetic approach to managing complex organizations can help to avoid problems and failures.

*) Apart from this, the paper will present a sociocybernetic but non-luhmannian approach.