Towards a complexity theory of strategy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the creation of a complexity theory of strategy by integrating a number of ideas that have previously been explored independently in the strategy literature, namely improvisation, minimal structures, simple rules, dynamic capabilities, bricolage, and organizational resilience. Design/methodology/approach Organizations are taken as complex adaptive systems that align with their environments through interaction and response rather than analysis and planning. The paper discusses how Schumpeterian environments influence organizations in the direction of simpler, minimally-structured designs and considers why Schumpeterian environments create the need for strategic improvisation and minimally-structured designs. Research limitations/implications The paper articulates recent concepts in the management literature. The integration of these new concepts may be relevant to explore the way they relate with each other in the emerging organizational configurations. A model is proposed for further empirical testing. Originality/value This contribution challenges the old representation of the strategic process as one involving complex organizations with simple peopleexcept at the top, to one where simple organizations enable complex and professional people to create the strategy in an intentional, even if not always planned, response to the concrete world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-850
Number of pages12
JournalManagement Decision
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006


  • Complexity theory
  • Organizational processes
  • Strategic management


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