Innovation Systems are Self-organizing Complex Adaptive Systems

Levent Yilmaz

Creativity and innovation can be viewed as Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) phenomena that occur at different scales, including individual, group, and organization levels. It is conjectured that at the collective level, creativity and innovation can be conceptualized as emergent properties of a system of interacting agents within a CAS. To illustrate the utility of the proposed approach, CAS mechanisms and principles are substantiated in terms of the structure and dynamics of a specific form of user innovation community, called Open Source Software (OSS) development. Specifically, evolution processes that involve variation and selection through professional attention are conceptualized using various organizational design configurations (i.e., network membership, structure) and governance mechanisms (i.e., coordination, conflict resolution, and decision making) to mimic the co-evolution of the project and the community. The paper concludes by proposing a set of proxy metrics that can be used to evaluate emergent system of interactions and organizational structures in OSS communities to measure their innovation output, as well as potential.

Subjects: 15.8 Simulation; 7.1 Multi-Agent Systems

Submitted: Jan 20, 2008


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