Chaos Theory and the Arts in the Context of
Social, Economic and Organisational Development
18-21 March, 2001
Note: Papers and news articles related to this subject are currently being posted in the Library. In addition a Discussion Forum has been initiated in the Forums section. All visitors to this site are invited to contribute.
Chaos theory has attracted wide attention as a new kind of science. A description of large complex systems -- everything from weather, to ecologies, to populations of neurons and the growth of cities -- chaos appears to have important lessons to teach us about how large groups of intensely interacting people make patterns, create new forms or get stuck in old forms. Chaos is a physicist's description of creativity and the phenomenon of transformation-in-motion. Thus, in curious ways, it has much in common with the arts.
Some organisational consultants and economic and social thinkers have felt that there must be important applications of Chaos Theory to the arts and creativity in general as well as to the "practical" world of business and society. There appears to be a special attraction to these approaches as an antidote to the increasing amorality and "soul-lessness", as David Whyte calls it, of modern economic, business and social forms.
The analogy between the creative process of art and the emerging process of organisational and societal transformation is also rich in offering a more holistic picture of "transformation in motion". In capturing the fluidity of the change process and its non-linear progression, Chaos Theory provides alternative perspective to the conventional wisdom of how to conduct change programmes within a firm or a society. It legitimates the concerns for space and time in pattern formation within any given organisational change. The conventional hierarchical model of organisation is also challenged by artistic creativity and by several tenets of chaos theory-- therein lies its attraction.
However, attempts to apply Chaos Theory and artistic creativity to business and society have not been entirely clear or productive.
Are there clear ways to use these creative insights to inspire our organisations to be more like complex organisations in nature and less like feudal kingdoms?
Note: A discussion forum dealing with the subject matter of this conference can be found in the Forums section of this web site.
John Briggs, Western Connecticut State University
David Peat, Pari Center for New Learning
Lynda Keen, Plectics Consulting
Raymond Saner, Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development
Lichia Yiu, Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development
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