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Critical Literature Review

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Current literature review has been conducted considering the workplace problem in an organization that was experiencing managerial issues because its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was not adapting to the dynamics of today’s organizations. He was slow in decision-making, which resulted in poor implementation of late decided activities in the organization. All this culminated in decline in production and returns of the company. Management should be able to employ a model that will make CEO adaptive to changes that are present in the working environment, as well as within the company and finally help him make reasonable decisions based on reality of current organizational management. Any successful leader, therefore, has to understand the history of the company and comprehend what exactly has made it successful or resulted in its decline. Moreover, he is required to be involved in the scenario planning to be ready for possible changes in order to adapt them in future. Current paper will conduct critical literature review on adaptive management that is based on flexibility to changes occurring in the organization and its environment and making effective decisions in line with the changes, as well as implementing them in the most appropriate manner.

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Assumptions in the Field

The assumptions existing in the field can also be viewed or classified as limitations of most organizations to enhance effectiveness and efficiency in management of complexities. The main assumptions of present research entail three factors. One of the assumptions made by most organizations is that such complexities occur only for a short period and among selected companies. The other one is that only few departments of the organization are affected by such complexities across the organization. These assumptions are now explained in details (Barton, Stephens & Haslett, 2009).

The first assumption that complexities occur to few organizations was to a certain extent unique because it could imply that the results and findings could not be relevant to CEOs and managers of all companies. The organization of study could be considered as conservative due to the fact that the CEO was reluctant to adapt to modern organizational management that made him slow in decision-making (Boulding, 1956). It implies that other organizations that do not have similar problem may not find these findings relevant. The second assumption concerning the period of such complexities being limited to a short time, leads to doubts on whether the results would be timely, as well as situational dependent. The short study span implies that the small number of action study cycles was done in a relatively short period (McKelvey, 2002). Compared to the results, if the study was performed for a longer period, there is no doubt that it would have given different results proving that such complexities can live forever in an organization in case they are not handled effectively.

The third assumption in this field is that only a few departments in the organization such as administration and human resource department are affected by such complexities. It implies that there is a high level of generalization (Maguire, McKelvey, Mirabeau & Oztas, 2006). It is the case since past studies could have found it difficult to include all personnel in the organization especially using the action research methodology. It occurred for the reason that a sample that allowed easy access was used. In any case, according to the sample used, administration and human resource department were unique and relevant to the study question that is related to the organizational management by adapting CAS tools (Boulding, 1956).

Areas of Discourse, Contention, or Divergent Perspectives

In the study of organizations and their dynamics and complexities, there can be several areas of discourse. In applying complex adaptive systems, there are various models that can be used. The main issue is to determine which one is the most appropriate (Maguire, et al., 2006). Although alternative methodology, like embedded case studies, can be initially considered, an interview with CEO can show that such type of data collection would provide undesired results due to interference (Wang & von Tunzelmann, 2000). Future research model should be considered because it can enable semi-educative process which will offer either an agreement or disagreement with the proposal that the model would be vital in enabling managers to run and control the organization in an effective manner (Barton, et al., 2009).

While examining the research problem, there can be other issues that emerge as apparent. First, it is evident that good comprehension of complex adaptive system will be needed. The second issue is that the comprehension of the adaptive system will lead to development of a model that can be examined. Finally, the model must be tested, at least at the conceptual stage. To address issues, a literature search should be done on the general background of complex adaptive systems and narrowed to deal with complex adaptive systems, as well organizational understanding of the company (Levy & Ellis, 2006). Such model explains how complex adaptive system can help managers effectively understand their organizations and thus make the right decisions.

Most importantly, the generative metaphor model is another model that can be applied and incorporated to the complex adaptive systems. The reason that this model will not be the best is the fact that it is commonly used for idea starters in CAS. Yet the management team of the company will continue performing some strategic operations, although they will not be adjusted to the complex adaptive systems. However, according to Barton et al. (2009), generative metaphor can serve as an instructional purpose to introduce complex adaptive systems thinking to the CEO and other management team members. Although the idea of complex adaptive systems provides an important background for understanding behavior of companies from a complex systems perspective, they seem to have not been tested through empirical research. According to Hart (2002), most of works on companies that are trying to apply complex adaptive systems concept have been descriptive and therefore does not provide examples that can be practically applied. Other authors like Wheatley have literally showed areas of further studies after creating comparisons between complex systems and companies (Boulding, 1956).

According to Stacey (2011), there are other disagreements between writers on the use of complex adaptive systems concept to companies. Such discourse, instead of coming from the basic differences in the application of complex adaptive systems concept to organizational comprehension, appears to be the result of the basic academic discipline of the authors (Maguire, et al., 2006). For instance, the discussion on how information is applied by CEO in the organization is explained differently depending on the context of the author. Research regarding the use of complex adaptive systems in companies has been greatly limited to interpretation of activities in businesses couched in complex adaptive systems (Stacey, 2011). For instance, Barton et al., (2009), appreciate that some business change activities in complex adaptive systems terms cause the emerging use of chaos theory, which dictates that change is naturally unpredictable and has not been carefully tested in businesses settings.

Area of Research Interest

There are numerous sections that complex adaptive systems can apply in order to result in efficient management of an organization. As stated before, the futures model in applying complex adaptive system is an important model because it enables CEOs to solve future problems that have occurred and were solved before. The bid to model the behavior of complex adaptive systems is one thing that researchers of such theory have attempted for a long time (Volberda & Lewin, 2003).

System dynamics is yet another area of interest of CAS researchers. It deals with non-linear dynamics, as well as with the feedback control created in disciplines such as physics and engineering (Maguire, et al., 2006). The tools of system dynamics are used in the behavior of human beings and physical, as well as technical systems. It makes it copy the cognitive and social psychology, economics, as well as other social sciences. In addition, a research indicated that Newtonian reduction has been the primary functioning of a systems modeling. The findings of the research also depicted that the behavior of a system can be comprehended and expected by determining its components and the vital connections between them (Boulding, 1956). Complex adaptive systems are therefore an area that seeks to get a linear means of determining a non-linear problem.

Relevance to the Work Problem

Given the workplace issues in the organization of study, the complex adaptive system can be vital in enhancing the efficiency of the workplace. The issue that concerned the CEO’s poor planning and strategy development in the workplace required application of different and holistic paradigm to run and ensure consistency in responsibility of the changing and complex environment for community, business and individuals (Levy & Ellis, 2006). When future research is joined with workplace theory, there can be improved comprehension of the complex and dynamic nature of the workplace. Such investigation contributes to knowledge by showing the way future studies can assist CEO think, plan, talk and act creatively to offer better workplace strategies. The model also offers another contribution to knowledge and growth of future oriented framework, which can be applied in the organizing of workplace to show how the CEO can use future studies in such situation. Boulding (1956), recognized that the workplace today is different from the past and that it would keep on changing even in the future. The change is attributed to not only the external forces like economic, societal, demographic, technological and environmental forces but also to the internal institutional trends and real estate industry change.

Complex adaptive systems (CAS) also referred to as complex theory has its origins in the fields of biology and ecology and embraces the idea of a company being adaptive to its environment. It was in line with the issue that complex adaptive systems methods were tasted for investigated company through literature analysis (Levy & Ellis, 2006). The study dealt with organizational management through the investigation of complex adaptive systems. For instance, organizations take data from their surrounding, receive regularities from the data and compress the results into internal models, which are applied in explaining phenomenon in the organization, as well as predicting the organization’s future. In the past, complex adaptive systems were used to explain phenomenon like the evolution theory. Nevertheless, nowadays CAS is being used to help organizations adapt to the changing ways in which companies are run and encourage managers to embrace the effect that environment has had on their organizations (Boulding, 1956).

Initial problem Definition and Redefinition in the Future

The main issue that is addressed by current report is the organizational understanding and management of investigated company by the managers and CEO. It gives them an insight on how complex adaptive systems can be applied in an organizational setting in order to promote effective and efficient management that will enable the organizational to achieve its strategic and managerial objectives. The main objective of present research was to find out how complex adaptive techniques can be utilized in helping companies CEO and managers better understand their organization and, as a result, run it effectively and efficiently. In the company, it was evident that comprehension of the organization can be improved by the use of the concept of complex adaptive systems to develop a tool that can be utilized when making future decisions that are concurrent with the changing internal and external environment (McKelvey, 2002).

The initial workplace issue was CEO’s slow decision-making, including the actions to be taken on customers’ complaints. In any organization, customers are considered to be the pillars of the company’s success. Hart (2002) recognizes that decline in customer base is a clear indication of a firm’s negative growth. The major problem was accompanied by some other minor issues, which can be routed from customer dissatisfaction, including reduced returns and disloyal customers going for competitor’s products and services. According to Fink (2009), a choice has to be made between maintaining the norm of complexity reduction and adopting a mechanism of complexity adoption that is more appropriate with the current situation of several competitors who are quick in decision-making. Such policies are examined in terms of their merits and demerits to determine the most appropriate and convenient in arriving at timely decisions to solve the workplace problem (Barton, et al., 2009). Complex adaptive systems can be seen to be crucial in efficient management of the company, considering the changing events in the environment of the business. Moreover, a problem experienced in the past by CEO can be easily handled in case it reoccurs in the future but only when CAS is adopted by the organization.


Current paper has deeply investigated the workplace problem under consideration and proposed the complex adaptive systems as a way of handling complexities and dynamics in an organization. CEO should follow such system in order to understand all the effects that influence the company. The application of complex adaptive systems as a framework in managerial assistance is increasing in various range of organizations. When managers of organizations focus on increasing networks, interactions and diversity, they increase information flow and promote creative adaptation and self organization. It enables CEOs and other managers of such organizations to make the most appropriate decisions that will result in the best leadership due to understanding and appreciating everything that occurs around and within their organizations. In other words, the workplace problem that involved management complexities and dynamics can easily be solved using the complex adaptive systems.

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