Strategy as order emerging from chaos

Ralph Stacey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


Scientists are developing revolutionary new ways of understanding how nature functions. They have recently discovered that systems in nature (for example, a gas) are capable of endless variety because their dynamics are chaotic—unpredictable new patterns emerge through a process of spontaneous self organization (for example, a laser beam). Since human organizations are dynamic feedback systems just as nature's systems are, these new discoveries—chaos and self organization—apply to organizations and provide managers with a fundamentally different way of understanding their strategic development. With this new frame of reference we can see that it is impossible for managers to plan or envision the long-term future of an innovative organization. Instead, they must create and discover an unfolding future, using their ability to learn together in groups and to interact politically in a spontaneous, self-organizing manner
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-17
JournalLong Range Planning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1993


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