Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL)




Several authors have attempted recently to extend Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) theory to organizations and business management (Wheatley, 1992; Lind, 1994; Beccone, 1998; Zimmerman, Lindberg & Plsek, 1998, Eoyang & Olson, 2001). The theory might be useful for practitioners, but it cannot provide detailed scientific predictions. The following questions are posed for analysis: Could CAS theory be applied to hiring and promoting leaders and managers? Would it be possible, and would it make sense, for organizations to identify emergent leaders as management prospects given Beccone's analysis of the distinction between leaders and managers? How might the procedures and results likely differ from current practice? Is it possible to conduct empirical research that supports or contradicts normative conclusions about whether applied CAS theory works for selecting leaders and managers? This paper argues that applied CAS theory is useful for identifying and selecting leaders and managers despite the predictive limitations because it increases the probability of influencing organizational adaptations in desirable directions.


SC 11.MAL.2002.Jordan.MW