The Complex Adaptive Workplace: A Theoretical Link between Office Design and Productivity?

PRICE, Ilfryn (2002). The Complex Adaptive Workplace: A Theoretical Link between Office Design and Productivity? In: RICHARDS, Huw and FRIZELLE, Gerald, (eds.) Tackling industrial complexity : the ideas that make a difference. Cambridge, University of Cambridge : Institute for Manufacturing.

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Despite well-publicised successes and failures, the evidence base for the impact of a workplace on an organisation's business performance remains small and confused. Theoretical perspectives are, with few exceptions, limited to matching physical environment to task. The 'edge of chaos' at a critical density of connectivity (Kauffman's K) between the agents in a network may explain how workplaces enable, or retard innovation. Formal rectilinear open plan offices are conceived as freezing occupants in a state of connectivity as low as traditional cellular designs. Offices without minimal acoustic or visual privacy (high K) may create chaotic stress and reversion as individuals seek to recreate safety. In between are offices known to have enhanced informal conversation between their occupants and resultant innovation? Do these represent edge of chaos conditions? The hypothesis can be justified by reference to examples. A research programme is outlined that might test the hypothesis more rigorously.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Business School Research Institute > Service Sector Management
Departments: Sheffield Business School > Service Sector Management
Depositing User: Ilfryn Price
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2011 14:42
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2018 12:24

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