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Organizational Emergence in Networked Collaboration
International Journal of Communication Systems
Research on complex adaptive systems has generated several conceptual parables to explain systems with emergent behaviour. One prominent use for terms such as self-organization, evolutionary trajectories, co-evolution and punctuated equilibrium has been in understanding human organizations. In such systems, emergent behaviour is demonstrated in novel structures, processes and spin-offs that cannot be explained just by studying single components of the organization and the intelligence embedded in them. Instead of solely exploiting the qualitative explanatory power of the evolutionary concepts, this paper focuses also on quantitative methods to track emergent behaviour in a globally distributed, constantly fluctuating and highly networked project organization. The underlying case is that of CERN (CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Israel, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Yugoslavia (status suspended after the UN embargo, June 1992), the European Commission and UNESCO have observer status.) and its decade long accelerator project, which strongly relies on electronic communication and networking to achieve its major objectives due to be accomplished by the year 2006. By using time series and self-organizing maps to analyse the global interaction among project groups and individuals the paper provides new insight to the understanding of emergent behaviour in human organizations. The key result of the study concerns the rigid deep structure of each case organization that seems to remain intact for the duration of the whole project.
organizational evolution, emergent structures, project management, distributed and networked operations, self-organizing maps, time series
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