Storytelling, time, and evolution: The role of strategic leadership in complex adaptive systems

Kimberly B. Boal, Patrick L. Schultz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations

Abstract

Organizations are increasingly being described as complex adaptive systems (CAS). In this view, the behavior and structure of an organization emerges out of the interaction of a collection of organizational agents. Seemingly, there is no role for strategic leadership because the system self-organizes. We argue that strategic leaders play a crucial role in moving organizations to the "edge of chaos" and aid in organizational learning and adaptation by influencing the tags that produce the structure of interactions among organizational agents. Through dialogue and storytelling, strategic leaders shape the evolution of agent interactions and construct the shared meanings that provide the rationale by which the past, the present, and the future of the organization coalesce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-428
Number of pages18
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2007

Keywords

  • Complexity theory
  • Dialogue
  • Learning
  • Memes
  • Storytelling
  • Strategic leadership

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