Coordinators: Cristina Ponsiglione
University of Naples, Italy
Linda Ponta
University of Genoa, Italy

This Research Area (RA) deals with complexity in Management and Organizational Studies.

Complexity is receiving an increasing attention both from scholars and practitioners, because it is increasingly recognized as a fundamental aspect of nowadays economies, markets, and organizational and innovation systems.

In fact, these systems can be considered complex systems as they are characterized by non linear relations among their constitutive elements, by emergent properties, and dynamic continuous evolutions.

In literature, many scholars underline the need of new approaches and tools able to cope with the increasing complexity of the organizations and of the environments in which they operate.

Moreover, in order to face “big challenges”, such as climate change, green and energy transitions, migrations, health, poverty, water scarcity, pandemic crises, new approaches are necessary in management and organizational studies.

Thus, finding new approaches and solutions to change mindset and rethink organizations, management systems and practices, supply chains, and innovation systems to be resilient has become the new imperative in management research.

Complexity theory and Complex Adaptive Systems could be helpful in suggesting an appropriate approach in Innovation, Management and Organizational Studies.

In particular, a complexity approach, i.e. a dynamic and systemic approach, allows to model complex system behaviors, reproducing the internal dynamics of the whole system from the bottom, focusing on its micro elements such as the agents, their attributes, actions, goals, coordination mechanism and the network structure (and type of relationships) that connects them.

Moreover with the complexity approach is it possible to consider the ecosystem in which organizations evolve and so all the value and supply chain can be investigated and also all the coordination mechanisms among the different actors can be studied. Finally, also theory such as the New Public Management can be simulated to provide information to governments and policy makers.

Possible Contribution

The aim of this RA is to attract high-quality papers that use these approaches rooted in Complexity Science and address the issue of complexity in managerial and organizational studies, also considering the high level impact of managing complexity on macroeconomic systems.

Particularly welcome are theoretical and empirical contributions on:

  • Drivers and barriers of resilience in supply chains, organizations, and innovation systems through a complex systems approach.
  • Complexity approaches to study clusters, firms’ networks, innovation ecosystems in turbulent environments.
  • Modeling and studying organizational and inter-organizational changes after big crises.
  • Soft computing methods in analyzing dynamic evolution of economies, markets, organizational and managerial systems in the digital and ecological transition era.
  • Using complexity methodologies (Qualitative Comparative Analysis, Multi-Agent Systems, Social Network Analysis, System Dynamics) to support policy making for sustainable business, economies, and innovation systems.
  • Understanding and Modelling with complexity lents the economic, environmental and social impact of technological innovation.

Papers that adopt innovative theoretical and empirical methodologies are particularly appreciated. Methodologies based on agent-based modeling, networks, system dynamics, evolutionary game theory, percolation theory are very suitable. In addition, the recent advent and spread of the availability of new technologies for massive data collection permit to measure and evaluate complex system dynamics through data-driven methodologies.


The second workshop on complexity: “The challenge of complexity: How organizations surf at the edge of chaos” will be on the 12 of May 2023 in Bari, Italy.

The program and info can be found at the following link:

Organizing team: Ilaria Giannoccaro, Giovanni Francesco Massari, Cristina Ponsiglione, Linda Ponta