Arianna Dal Forno, Ugo Merlone

Complex Dynamics in Work Groups

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Complexity is a central construct in organization science. In particular, the complex systems metaphor is extremely useful to provide new perspectives on some organizational phenomena. In this paper we consider effort allocation dynamics in a model of supervised work group in which the total production is the result of two non-additive tasks. Taking into account the perception of inequity, as in Adams (1965), we analyze the effort allocation dynamics to resolve the tension in a situation resembling the proverbial «straw that broke the camel's back». The results prove the coexistence of different dynamics varying in terms of efficiency. For some dynamics we can observe retaliation between subordinates and even full conflict with no production. Finally, we are able to explain some of the apparently irrational behaviors enacted by the organizational actors as the result of their cognitive processes.

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