Chaos Theory and Its Benefit for Today's World

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Topics: Management
Postgraduate Certificate in Audit Management & Consultancy

When management theorists talk of ‘difficult times ahead ' they seem to be talking of market conditions, macro and micro, which are rapidly evolving, an environment which is unpredictable, uncertain, and uncontrollable. A kind of chaos. Thus, if the world is becoming a place which is forever changing, and organisations find that they cannot plan for the long run, or predict the market forces which they will ‘inevitably ' be subjected to, then can management theory provide guidance and inspiration which will help them survive this chaos?

Well, ‘the true objective is to take the chaos as given and learn to thrive on it. The winners of tomorrow will deal proactively with chaos, will look at the chaos per se as the source of market advantage…Chaos and uncertainty are (will be) market opportunities for the wise…It is with that in mind that we must proceed." (Peters, T. (1987), Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution. Vermont, Preface)

In other words, one approach is to treat chaos as a positive force, a situation of opportunity to not only survive but to evolve and thrive as an organisation. This essay will look at Thomas Peters ' work in Thriving on Chaos (1987) (and any references to Peters ' work in this essay are in regards to only this work of Thomas Peters). It will summarise the main points of his theory there within, and evaluate the extent to which it may or may not provide useful guidance and inspiration to deal with change and uncertainty (Ironically, Peters published this work around the time of the stock market crash in 1987).

Thomas Peters came up with 5 areas of management which would, he claims, "constitute the essence of proactive performance in our chaotic world" (Peters, T. (1987), Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution. Vermont, p36). Within these areas Peters presents 45 prescriptions which he defines as an "urgent call for radical reform"



Bibliography: • Sheldrake, J. (1996), Management Theory: From Taylorism to Japanization, London, Thomson • Peters, T. (1987), Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution. Vermont, Pan Books • Handy, C. (1992) Understanding Organizations. Penguin.

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