Changes taking place in the first decade of the 21st century post-industrial age are causing major adjustments in every industry in every sector of economy. The competitive environment, the primary source of opportunities and threats, is becoming more and more dynamic and disorderly, and its high volatility transpires into the internal environment of organisations.
As the amount of information in the world increases, paradoxically, the ability to utilise that information for the benefit of organisations is on the decrease. This is particularly true of companies operating on the frontline of technological advancement, such as a subject of this research study, viz. a leading South African mobile telecommunications services provider.
The traditional structured approach to the management of organisations works well when all the variables in the environment are predictable, the changes are evolutionary and planned, and controlled perspective holds true. The reality, however, defies all attempts to control management when the environment becomes too complex.
Events taking place in complex organisations are difficult to predict: past experiences do not guarantee future successes and any small action can have large and volatile consequences. How must an organisation deal with complexity in order to succeed? How does it harness it – in the environment, within itself, people and relationships – to make it work for the organisation rather than against it?
This study explores complexity theory as a way of understanding and changing organisations. The results of the survey and the interviews are used to build the model of organisational complexity that defines the ranking of complexity factors in terms of internal and external environment. The study suggests a programmatic approach that links projects, management and stakeholders in the programme environment, as a way to deal with complexity.
Supervisor: Prof P Steyn
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