Generative Emergence: A New Discipline of Organizational, Entrepreneurial, and Social Innovation

ISBN : 9780199933594

Benyamin B. Lichtenstein
480 Pages
167 x 241 mm
Pub date
Aug 2014
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How do organizations become created? Entrepreneurship scholars have debated this question for decades, but only recently have they been able to gain insights into the non-linear dynamics that lead to organizational emergence, through the use of the complexity sciences. Written for social science researchers, Generative Emergence summarizes these literatures, including the first comprehensive review of each of the 15 complexity science disciplines. In doing so, the book makes a bold proposal for a discipline of Emergence, and explores one of its proposed fields, namely Generative Emergence. The book begins with a detailed summary of its underlying science, dissipative structures theory, and rigorously maps the processes of order creation discovered by that science to identify a 5-phase model of order creation in entrepreneurial ventures. The second half of the book presents the findings from an experimental study that tested the model in four fast-growth ventures through a year-long, week-by-week longitudinal analysis of their processes, based on over 750 interviews and 1000 hours of on-site observation. These data, combined with reports from over a dozen other studies, confirm the dynamics of the 5-phase model in multiple contexts. By way of conclusion, the book explores how the model of Generative Emergence could be applied to enact emergence within and across organizations.


Chapter 1. Why Emergence
Chapter 2. Prototypes of Emergence
Chapter 3. Methods for Studying Emergence - 15 Fields of Complexity Science
Chapter 4. Defining Emergence and Generative Emergence
Chapter 5. Types of Emergence Studies
Chapter 6. Dissipative Structures
Chapter 7. Applications to Organizations
Chapter 8. Introducing Dynamic States
Chapter 9. Outcomes of Generative Emergence
Chapter 10. Introducing the Five-Phase Process Model Of Generative Emergence
Chapter 11. Phase 2 - Stress & Experiments
Chapter 12. Phase 3 - Amplification and Critical Events
Chapter 13. Phase 4 - New Order through Recombination
Chapter 14. Phase 5 - Stabilizing Feedback
Chapter 15. Cycles of Emergence
Chapter 16. Cycles of Re-Emergence
Chapter 17. Boundaries of Emergence, and Beyond the Boundaries
Chapter 18. Enacting Emergence

About the author: 

Benyamin B. Lichtenstein, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management at University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a faculty member in the Organizations and Social Change group. His research specialty is the study of emergence, the creation and re-creation of new ventures, organizations, and collaborations; he also is an expert of complexity science and how it can be applied to sustainability issues. He has published four books and more than 50 articles and chapters. Professor Lichtenstein is Academic Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at U-Mass Boston; he is a Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, and is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Social Policy in the McCormick School of Public Policy.

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