Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

Towards a Complexity View of the Knowledge Creating Company: Organisations from the ‘Inside-Out’

Dr Peter Critten.

Organisation structures and a purely normative approach for categorising organisational behaviour, this paper argues, can restrict our vision of an organisation’s potential corporate capability. Drawing on current perspectives on knowledge management and implications of complexity theory – which views organisations from both a ‘legitimate’ and ‘shadow’ perspective - this paper proposes a framework within which the ‘shadow’ side of an organisation can be seen as the powerhouse for the generation of new knowledge and innovation
The proposition is that more attention should be paid to how people organise themselves naturally within organisations seen as ‘complex adaptive systems’ and how , through a process of ‘communicative interaction’ , they make sense of their experience through shared stories and continually create – not just manage – new knowledge.
The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for how the Human Resource Development (HRD) function in particular can use the model outlined to help organisations capture the rich stories through methods like ‘appreciative inquiry’ , ‘dialogue’ and ‘learning histories’ and proactively encourage the creation of ‘communities of practice ‘ within which new knowledge can be generated. The outcome, it is argued , will be the creation of a genuine holistic learning culture which will encourage , recognise and reward organisational learning rather than be preoccupied with becoming ‘a’ learning organisation


Dr Peter Critten  (United Kingdom)
Principal Lecturer
Business School
Middlesex University

  • Corporate capability
  • Complexity theory
  • Communities of practice
  • Knowledge management
  • Communicative interaction
  • Learning culture
  • Human Resource Development (HRD)

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)