The development and evolution of social systems

Impact case of the month: Emergence, existence, and complexity theory as a lens for societal transition

March 17 2022

In 2003, Rob Blomme, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Nyenrode Business Universiteit, started his research to better understand how social systems such as societies, organizations, and groups develop and evolve through self-organizing principles. With this knowledge, leaders will gain more insights into how they can steer transition processes.

"I use two perspectives for my research. In the first approach, I developed theories answering the question how routines and habits develop during interactions between participants within a social system. The development of these routines and habits to deal with changes outside the social system is called self-organization. Here I used theories on emergence and self-organization," says Blomme. The second approach was to develop theories that complemented traditional behavioral science approaches by emphasizing the human condition and existence. "In this approach, I used information from existential psychology, sociology and philosophy because these perspectives can be applied to human behavior and their condition in any context," Blomme continues.  

Moral perspective

Blomme's research contributes to management and leadership practice, in particular to executives and managers. "People can develop moral perspectives in their actions and intentions. We are now seeing this reflected in two ongoing research projects. Stakeholders are acquiring new knowledge as well as learning how to reflect more profoundly on their state of being, attitude, and behavior in relation to short and long term stress," Blomme said. The impact of this change in attitude is big because the key people are involved in the projects. Using the (preliminary) outcomes, stakeholders are working to translate these new insights into new policies. 

March 16 2022

An impact case includes a research portfolio with a central theme, focused on the reach and impact of that particular research. The impact cases are well readable for a wide audience, display how Nyenrode strengthens the relation with the practice and how faculty members find practical solutions for relevant and actual challenges in the field.

The impact cases are categorized under Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Stewardship and Educational.

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