MIS 373: Living with Complexity – A Perspective from the

MIS 373 | Fall 2014 | SYLLABUS
MIS 373:
Living with Complexity – A Perspective from the Information and
Business Environment
Unique number:
Meeting time:
Meeting Location:
Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:30-2:00 p.m.
CBA 4.324
Professor Reuben R. McDaniel, Jr.
Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Regents Chair in Health Care Management
Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management
CBA 6.454
Office: 512-471-9451
Mobile: 512-587-4862
[email protected]
Office hours:
Tuesday 9:00 - 12:00 noon
Shi-Ying Lim
[email protected]
The world we live in seems to be becoming more and more complex. People often believe
that more technology and more information will resolve this situation. Modern science
suggests that this may not be true. Life is tough and getting tougher. Understanding the
sources of the complexity you face will help you to figure out better ways to live with it.
This course will examine some of the sources of complexity in our lives and suggest ways
that we might more successful cope with it.
Assignments: Analysis of academic and non-academic papers, 20%; team projects, 15%;
class participation, 15%, mid-term term exam 20% (20% of mid-term is the individual
strategies), individual term paper, 30%.
Forty pages each week of reading and twenty pages of writing for the semester.
Among other things, this course will help you to improve your critical thinking skills. There
are four specific activities required that will form the basis for your learning throughout
the semester.
1. You will be required to read academic and nonacademic papers regarding
complexity science and complex adaptive systems. These will be the basis for class
discussions. Acquiring content.
2. You will be required to provide written critiques for two of these papers. You will
distribute your critiques your classmates. Each of these critiques is to be 3-4 pages
long. Critiquing content.
3. You will be required to develop strategies and tactics, individually and in groups, for
successfully navigating complex systems. Applying content.
4. You will be required to write a term paper expressing your understandings of
complexity and of ways to live with complexity. Synthesis of content.
MIS 373 | Fall 2014 | SYLLABUS
Class Schedule and Reading Assignments
You are required to read 1-2 articles for each class period. The readings should be done
before the class assigned. For several of the articles, your classmates will have prepared a
discussion paper, which you should read before coming to class. Your goal should be to
come to class prepared to discuss the topic with the required readings as a starting place
for discussion. You are encouraged to use any material that you have access to in preparing
for class discussion. There are numerous sources on the Internet for information about
complexity theory. The reading packet is intended as a start, not as the end of insights into
the topic. Use your imagination and your skills to enhance your sources of knowledge.
Share your discoveries with the class so that we can all enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Please note that I reserve the right to add a few readings from the popular press to the
assignments notes below.
Wednesday August 27 – Session 1
Sullivan, Tim (2013). Embracing Complexity: An interview with Michael J.
Mauboussion. Harvard Business Review, September 2013.
Monday September 1
Labor Day – No class meeting
Wednesday September 3 – Session 2
Overview of Complex Systems
McDaniel, Reuben R., Jr. (2004). Chaos and Complexity in a Bioterrorism Future. In
John D. Blair, Myron D. Fottler, & Albert C. Zapantam (Eds.). Advances in Health Care
Management, Vol. 4, 119-139. Oxford, UK: Elsevier, Ltd.
Monday September 8 – Session 3
Overview of Complex Adaptive Systems
Sargut, Gokce and McGrath, Rita Gunther (2013). Learning to Live with Complexity.
Harvard Business Review, September 2013, 68 – 76.
MIS 373 | Fall 2014 | SYLLABUS
Wednesday September 10 – Session 4
The Science of Complexity
Gershenson, Carlos (2013). The Implications of Interactions for Science and
Philosophy: eprint arXiv:1105.2827.
Monday September 15 – Session 5
Overview of Structures
Gladwell, Malcolm (2002). Blowing Up: How Nassim Taleb turned the inevitably of
disaster into an investment strategy. The New Yorker, April 22 & 29, 162 – 173.
Wednesday September 17 – Session 6
Fundamental Uncertainty
McDaniel, Reuben R., Jr., Jordan, Michelle E., & Fleeman, Bridgette F. (2003).
Surprise, surprise, surprise! A complexity science view of the unexpected. Health Care
Management Review, 28(3), 266-278.
Monday September 22 – Session 7
Value in Diversity
McDaniel, Reuben R., & Walls, Michelle E. (1997). Diversity as a management
strategy for organizations: A view through the lenses of chaos and quantum
theories. Journal of Management Inquiry, 6(4), 371-383.
Wednesday September 24 – Session 8
Communities of Practice
Wenger, Ettienne. (2005). Communities of Practice: A Brief Introduction.
Monday September 29 – Session 9
Goldstein, Jeffrey. (1999). Emergence as a Construct: History and Issues.
Emergence, 1(1), 49 – 72.
MIS 373 | Fall 2014 | SYLLABUS
Wednesday October 1 – Session 10
Co-Evolution and Fitness Landscapes
Beinhocker, Eric D. (1999). Robust adaptive strategies. Sloan Management Review, 3,
Take home exam distributed
Monday October 6 – Session 11
Take home exam turned in
Interactions of Ideas
Case Discussion - Class Debate, “Given what we know so far, what does it take to deal
successfully with complexity?”
Support your ideas. Provide reasoning for your ideas. Elaborate on your ideas.
Wednesday October 8 – Session 12
Theory in Action
Individual projects – developing strategies for action in the face of complexity
Each student is to write a one-two page paper identifying specific strategies for
action with a short paragraph justifying each strategy. These are to be turned in
by the beginning of the class.
Team projects: Developing strategies for action in the face of complexity
Students will be divided into 5-6 person teams. Each team is to develop a one-two page
paper identifying strategies for action with a short paragraph justifying each strategy. Each
of these papers is to be distributed to all members of the class.
Monday October 13 – Session 13
Dying in a Complex World
Firestorm Video
Weick, Karl E. (1993). The collapse of sense making in organizations: The Mann
Gulch Disaster. Administrative Science Quarterly, 12(38), 628-652.
MIS 373 | Fall 2014 | SYLLABUS
Wednesday October 15 – Session 14
Sensemaking as a Way of Staying Alive in a Complex World
Weick, Karl E., & Roberts, Karlene H. (1993). Collective mind in organizations:
Heedful interrelating on flight decks. Administrative Science Quarterly, 9(38), 357381.
Monday October 20 – Session 15
Learning from Samples of One
March, James G., Sproull, Less S., & Tasmuz, Michal (1991). Learning from samples of
one or fewer. Organization Science, 2(1), 1-13.
Wednesday October 22 – Session 16
Why do Some People and Organizations Fail to Learn?
Weick, Karl E. & Sutcliffe, Kathleen M. (2003). Hospitals as cultures of entrapment: A
re-analysis of the Bristol Royal Infirmary. California Management Review, 45(2), 7385.
Monday October 27 – Session 17
Learning when it is a Matter of Life or Death
Edmondson, Amy C. (2003). Speaking up in the operating room: How team leaders
promote learning in interdisciplinary action teams. Journal of Management Studies,
40(6), 1419-1452.
Wednesday October 29 – Session 18
Jazz as Key to Living with Complexity
Wynton Marsalis Video
Barrett, Frank J. (1998). Creativity and improvisation in jazz and organizations:
implications for organizational learning. Organizational Science, 9(5), 605-622.
MIS 373 | Fall 2014 | SYLLABUS
Monday November 3 – Session 19
Improvisation as an Important Skill
McKenna, Kalin, Leykum, Luci K., McDaniel, Reuben, R. Jr., (2013). The role of
improvising in patient care, Health Care Management Review, March 29, 2013.
Wednesday November 5 – Session 20
Relationships are Critical in a Complex World
Kelleher, Herb (1997). A culture of commitment. Leader to Leader, 2, 20-24.
Monday November 10 – Session 21
Conversation as a Way to Make Sense
Gratton, Lynda (2006). Connections and conversations provide the fuel for
innovation. Financial Times, March 30, 2006.
Wednesday November 12 – Session 22
Thinking about the Future when You Can’t make Good Forecasts
Cilliers, Paul (2006). On the importance of a certain slowness. E:CO, 8(3), 105-112.
Monday November 17 – Session 23
Can Information Systems Help in a Complex World
Weick, Karl E. (1985). Cosmos vs. chaos: Sense and nonsense in electronic contexts.
Organizational Dynamics, 14(2), 51-64.
Wednesday November 19 – Session 24
Social Networks and Social Capital, the Importance of Linking Up
Leana, Carrie R. (2013). The Missing Link in School Reform. Stanford Social
Innovation Review, Fall 2013.
MIS 373 | Fall 2014 | SYLLABUS
Monday November 24 – Session 25
Leadership in a Complex World
Weick, Karl E. (2001). Leadership as the legitimation of doubt. In W. Bennis, (Ed.).
The Future of Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Wednesday November 26 – No Class
Happy Thanksgiving
Monday December 1 – Session 26
Theory in Action
McDaniel, Reuben R., Jr. (2007). Management Strategies for Complex Adaptive
Systems: Sensemaking, Learning, and Improvisation. In Performance Improvement
Quarterly, Vol. 20, 21 – 42.
Revisit team projects on developing strategies for action in the face of complexity
Wednesday December 3 – Session 27
Review and ***Final Paper Due***
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