The overall purpose of the thesis is how organisations can be understood according their own conditions instead of trying to make them more rational and structured than they actually are in practice. In order to accomplish this, the thesis includes theoretical discussions with support in the following central concepts: organisation, learning and knowing. The contents of these concepts are treated as details, but are also to some extent integrated in order to understand organised complexity, which in this case means organisations. A feature of organised complexity is the dynamic character of relations and the fact that the results can be unpredictable. The phenomenon in itself is neither organised nor disorganised, but its most distinguishing feature is what is in between. These perspectives are represented within theories of complex adaptive systems. In this way, the last mentioned theories are used as an entirety, with the three themes, in order to understand organised complexity. By having themes (in this case organisation, learning and knowing) as a starting point, the result is that these central parts can be integrated with support in complex adaptive processes, where nine principles are considered somewhat more important than others. These principles are: self- organising, the future is under constant construction - a never-ending creation, circular causality, process is focused rather than result, paradoxes exist simultaneously, change is normality, small events and fluctuations rather than larger ones lead to change, time aspects are always present, and positive as well as negative feedback is given. These nine principles are crucial, also for the outcome of rational reason. In addition to this, there are roles, relations and interactions, general important concepts in order to understand the process within the three themes and thus organised complexity. In order to look into these concepts and their integration, two case studies are used: a study of a tax office and an ethnographic study of machine operators. The stories, and thus the descriptions, that emerge from the interviews are more ambiguous than logical and rational. In each organisation respectively, different kinds of interaction take place between the different roles, but also between the individual and his or her idea of the content of the role he or she has. Thus, the individual paradoxically appears simultaneously as individual and role. Moreover, relations are ambiguous: to the task, the work management and to other roles. In all these relations, meaning is constructed from roles and interactions, meaning that tends to repeat itself in self-organising processes. First and foremost, these processes take place out of circular causality rather than a simple reasoning of cause and effect . The creation of meaning with the time aspects of the past, the present and the future exist simultaneously as vital parts of interactions. For the machine operator this takes place in relation to the task, the machine, the supervisor, technicians, other operators and others, for tax administrators in relation to staff reductions and other changes initiated by the management. If the nine principles constitute largest possible entirety, then details are represented by the themes and their contents. In all the themes and in theories of complex adaptive processes, role, relation and interaction are recurring concepts. Together, they constitute some of the concepts that enable an analysis of connections between action and interest that are characterised as organised complexity which is constructed by interaction of details.
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2006. , 264 p.