Organisations as complex viable systems:

Angela Espinosa (Dr)
17 October 2016

In this talk Angela will provide a brief review of development of complex systems approaches to management and sustainability research. In particular she will brief the ‘Viability and Sustainability (V&S)’ approach, its methodologies, tools and some recent applications. Then she will summarise the theory offered by the Complex Adaptive Systems approach to this research field, and reflect on examples of application. A comparison among cases studies using the V&S approach and the CAS approach will be provided, and used as a basis for discussion of the differences and complementarities between these and other theoretical approaches to complexity which do also contribute to management and sustainability research.

Angela was born in Bogota, Colombia and graduated as a computer and systems engineer in 1981; she then got a PhD on Organisational Cybernetics from Aston Business School, UK in 1995. She worked originally as an Information Systems Manager, in private and public enterprises, and then as the Director of the Secretariat of Information and Systems of the Colombian President's Office (1990 – 1992). From 1993 to 2002, she taught systems and cybernetics in Los Andes University and provided consultancy for both private and public organisations. She led projects involving the restructuring of national auditing practices, the application of systems tools to national educational and environmental policies, and the introduction of participation in political systems. In this period, she published extensively in Colombia and lead hundreds of postgraduate dissertations in systems and cybernetics.

Since 2002 she has been researching at the Centre of Systems Studies, and teaching at Hull University Business School (HUBS). Since 2009 she has been half time in HUBS and half time an invited fellow at Los Andes Business School. In the last decade, she has focused her research on complexity, sustainability, and self-governance in businesses, eco-communities and networks and regions. She has recently published the second edition of a research monograph on an Imperial College Book Series on Complexity. with developments on theory and applications of Beer’s viability theory, in the context of sustainability research. It includes a summary of works suggesting new research directions, combining Beer’s viability work with state of the art complexity and sustainability research. She has also supervised many MSc and PhD dissertations, developed innovative modules on systemic and environmental management; published extensively in systems and operational research journals; and authored and co-edited several books on the application of cybernetics and systems thinking.