To explore the holistic behaviour of the UK Intellectual Property Office using the Complex Adaptive System paradigm

  • Alan Sully

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The aim of this research is to explore the holistic behaviour of the UK Intellectual Property Office, using the complex adaptive system paradigm. The study contributes to knowledge and practice through the refinement of the complexity strategy matrix, which portrays organisations as degrees of mechanistic and emergent behaviour. Consequently this understanding of organisational behaviour will assist organisations to change and respond to the environment. This is considered important, because traditional strategic management literature from its militaristic roots, through to the managerial and mechanistic conception as a process of planning, deliberate design and positioning to exploit markets, might understandably give the impression to external observers, that it is a discourse dominated by rational economic thought. However the last twenty five years has seen the emergence of the chaos and complexity schools of thought, which have explored the notions that organisations are complex adaptive systems existing in changing environments. This paradigm places the premium on the importance of organizational linkages with its environment, so that the organization can remain appropriately sensitive to changes. This context is real for the Intellectual Property Office, since the Intellectual Property environment is undergoing significant change. The data collection methods used to meet the aim and objectives of the study, involve the use of primary semi structured interviews which were complimented with secondary archival data. These data collection methods were considered as the most appropriate, as a means to interpret and understand the behaviour of the agents of the system, and place the findings within the general context of a case study. The findings show that whilst the IPO predominately show behaviours associated with the traditional management literature, through the abundance of control, top down decision making, and planning; the findings also indicate degrees of divergent behaviour which are associated with emergent and adaptable behaviour.
    Date of Award11 Oct 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRachel Mason-Jones (Supervisor) & Gareth White (Supervisor)


    • Complexity
    • Strategy
    • Change
    • Emergence/Self Organising
    • Learning Organisation

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