Title: Using scale-free processes to explain punctuated-change in management-relevant phenomena
Authors: Pierpaolo Andriani; Bill McKelvey
Addresses: Euromed Management, Rue Antoine Bourdelle, Domaine de Luminy BP 921, 13 288 Marseille Cedex 9, France. ' The UCLA Anderson School of Management, 110 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481, USA
Abstract: The way organisations change shows evidence of |extreme dynamics|, but management research is based on Gaussian statistics that rule out these extremes. On occasion, deviation-amplifying mutual causal processes cause extreme events characterised by power laws. They seem ubiquitous; we list 103 kinds of them – social and/or organisational or managerial rank/frequency distributions. We draw a |line in the sand| between scale-bound processes (characterised by Gaussian statistics and based on independent data points, finite variance and emphasising averages) and scale-free processes (characterised by Paretian statistics reflecting interdependence, positive feedback, infinite variance, and extreme outcomes). Quantitative journal publication depends almost entirely on the former type. We draw on complexity theory to propose redirecting management theory and research so as to make it more relevant to management practitioners. First, we propose a taxonomy of scale-free theories that explain the fractal properties of various kinds of organisational rank/frequency distributions and why they emerge. Second, we apply the scale-free theories to specific social/organisational examples.
Keywords: punctuated equilibrium; distributions; normal; Gaussian; Pareto; power laws; fractals; complexity theory; positive feedback; scale-free theory; SFT; extremes; complexity; 2007 liquidity crisis; management research; management theory; organisational frequency distributions; organisational rank distributions.
International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management, 2011 Vol.1 No.3, pp.211 - 251
Published online: 22 Oct 2014 *Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article