Current management theory and practice accepts that our linear and deterministic ways of thinking about managerial problems might create more problems than they solve. In the field of strategy studies, for instance, one can observe a growing interest in learning, facilitating organisational becoming, and focussing on balancing reliability with exploration in organising. Management theorists are keenly observing developments surrounding complexity and chaos theory in science, and are attempting to apply emerging theories to managerial problems.
The idea that many simple, non-linear deterministic systems can behave in an apparently unpredictable and chaotic manner was first introduced by the great French mathematician Henri Poincaré. Other early pioneering work in the field of chaotic dynamics is found in mathematical literature by scientists such as, among others, Birkhoff, Levenson and Kolmogorov. More recently, several Noble prizes have been awarded in this field of research, for instance to Prigogine and Kauffman.
Around the world, research centres and groups are created that aim to explore a different way of doing business; a more meaningful way – a way based on the realisation of value as a driver for management and organising. Such a contemporary view needs to be based within a new paradigm: a more systemic view of business that starts with a thorough reflection on values and purpose. The knowledge worker productivity dilemma identified by Peter Drucker, Roger Martin and others is an indication of a pragmatic need for a new paradigm for managing and organising.
For this special issue we invite contributions that aim to broaden the scope of business management to management by values, in order to prepare the leadership/stewardship/custodianship component for providing values-based leadership.
Management by values is synonymous with managing for sustainable performance. Indeed, sustainable performance is exclusively based on the realisation of socially or societally relevant values. It concentrates on the realisation of real value added for the customer, the citizen and the stakeholder, and does not limit its focus to the shareholder only.
Dolan et al. (2006) suggest that the following four interconnected trends are heightening organisational complexity and uncertainty, and contributing to situations where the mainstream approach reaches its limits:
- The need for quality and customer orientation
- The need for professional autonomy and responsibility
- The need for “bosses” to evolve into leaders/facilitators
- The need for “flatter” and more agile organisational structures
Quality and customer orientation are confronted with the issue that, in today’s markets, value added has become an issue for continuation (or call it survival). A highly developed customer expectation can be met only by either value adding products or services (i.e. through something which competitors do not offer), or by a price breaking offering (which of course, in the long run, is not viable for the company). The question to consider is a simple question that in practice does not seem so simple to answer: what is the value added of your company? What are the market, the economy and society be missing if your product or service would no longer be there (e.g. if it went bankrupt)? Are companies able to state their value added to society and if they are not able to state it, how could they manage the company to realise those values? If they would not have them, why do they exist in the first place from an economics point of view (other than for making an individual profit)?
Moving from good to excellent needs in particular a corporate focus on business model innovation, no doubt the most exciting and necessary activity of an excellent company.
“Shareholder value only” belongs to the mainstream managerial paradigm that is increasingly called into question. With less and less time to lose, people cannot afford the luxury of continuing to think in a paradigm that hardly questions the “negative” side effect of its own ontology, let alone its impact on all living species, including ourselves and nature. The framework of a short-term business view, ignoring the devastating impact of our consumerism on our own environment and our own wellbeing, is no longer tenable.
Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The ontology of complexity and values
- The paradigm of business model innovation
- Values as a corporate driver
- Values and sustainable performance
- Authentic leadership
- Stewardship in management
- Transformational leadership in a complex world
- Design thinking for business model innovation
- Case studies addressing the applications of complexity thinking in values-based leadership and business model innovation are equally welcome
Submission of manuscripts: 30 September, 2015