As a recent research paper on the subject of organizational collaboration notes, quote. “Collaboration does not come naturally for most employees, particularly those born before the Millennials. Previous generations were taught that competition was good, and that individual hard work—the “nose to the grindstone” mentality—would be rewarded with steady career progression. The nature of work has changed, however, and the management and knowledge silos that were created in the 20th century are no longer tenable today if organizations are to succeed. Collaboration helps break down those silos so that organizations can be creative, flexible, and ready to meet the changing, demanding needs of business today.”

Interdependence is one of the key characteristics of complex systems. In simpler linear systems there is a low level of connectivity, meaning the elements can be relatively independent of each other, but as we turn up the connectivity these connections become pathways for interdependency. So although interconnectivity and interdependence are two distinctly different phenomena, interconnectivity does create interdependence. As we turn up the connectivity within the system the parts develop or evolve in relation to each other and this creates interdependencies over time.

The modern nation state might be an example of this, during the modern era, different societies around the world declared their independence from each other by forming their own sovereign nation states. But today with the rise of globalization and information technology this interconnectivity is increasingly requiring us to recognize our interdependence whether this is desirable or not, interconnectivity is making interdependencies increasingly apparent, whether we are looking at the financial system, supply chains or environment concerns.

In this paper, we talk about interdependence as a key characteristic of complex organizations of all kind. We discuss how independence and interdependence create very different dynamics, what are called in game theory, zero and nonzero-sum games. With independence, zero-sum games may prevail where parts of the organization can gain at the expense of others often creating an attractor towards competition. In contrast, interdependence changes this dynamic to outcomes that are beneficial or detrimental to all, creating a strong attractor towards collaboration. We look at how creating collaborative organizations requires connecting people and aligning their incentives and interests with the whole; how through systems thinking we can try to identify integrative solutions that turn zero-sum either-or dynamics into positive-sum situations.

  • Publish Date: 19-4-2017

  • Length: 14 pages

  • Type: Management Research

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