GOLDEN Paper accepted in Journal of Change Management

The Complexity of Wicked Problems in Large Systems Change

S. Waddock, G. Meszoely, S. Waddell & D. Dentoni

Abstract:

Purpose:  This paper extends and elaborates the notion of successful organizational change to incorporate the concept of large system change, by developing a framework that brings together complexity and wicked problems theories to understand how individual organizations and change agents can better influence large system change. 

Design:  This conceptual paper integrates wicked problems and complexity theories to understand and cope with large system initiatives from the perspective of change agents in organizations, and uses the case of the electricity system as an illustrative example for these concepts. 

Findings:  The paper provides implications for large systems change and action steps for change agents in organizations, arguing that by understanding change initiatives through the lenses of complexity and wicked problems, change agents are likely to be more effective. 

Research Implications:  The integration of complexity science and wicked problems underpins the development of a comprehensive framework for creating effective large system change solutions, however, these ideas still need to be grounded in practice and empirical research. 

Practical Implications:  Using these ideas, change agents in organizations can enhance their influence and use the power of system dynamics to support positive action for sustainable change.  This paper provides a foundation to help think through the cross-sectorial, inter-organizational, and change dynamics involved in large system change efforts needed to bring about a more sustainable, secure, and equitable world for all.

If your are interested in this paper please contact Steve Waddell.

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