The Rolodex model: understanding relationship complexity as a precursor to the design of organizational forms for chaotic environments
Nissen, Mark E.
El Sawy, Omar A.
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The emerging business environment is increasingly complex, characterized by hypercompetition, compound interdependence, and electronic webs This heightened complexity is triggering a slew of new organizational forms and shifts in the underlying logics of organizational forms These new organizational forms are not only more complex, but they have new kinds of complexity - increasingly hybrid and heterarchical, more flexible, and dynamically reconfigurable. The report argues that in such new conditions we need to rethink how we conceive the structural dimensions of organizational form and base them on a process model of inter-organizational relationships. This report examines relationship complexity as a structural topology that underlies organizational form It identifies three structural dimensions of relationship complexity reach, range, and reciprocity and combines them in a model that allows dynamic reconfigurability. The model is based on the primacy of perspective of practicing managers and we have termed it the Rolodex Model as it has overtones of an organizational version of a manager's card file of contacts. Using the concepts of energy and phase space from physics to enrich the Rolodex Model, the report shows how it can be used to explain existing archetypes of organizational forms, to identity new organizational forms, and to provide insights for organizational design The report then argues that further elaboration of energy concepts and relationship complexity may be necessary before we can fully respond to, and anticipate, the complex, dynamic, hypercompetitive organizational environment of today , much less that likely to exist tomorrow.
NPS Report NumberNPS-GSBPP-02-004
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