AAAI Publications, 2011 AAAI Fall Symposium Series

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Conscious Adaptation: Building Resilient Organizations
Germaine Watts, John Paciga

Last modified: 2011-11-03


Organizations play a pivotal role in the dynamics of social, economic, and ecological systems. Current organizational life-cycle models do not adequately consider the impact of propensities (deeply ingrained preferences and patterns of behavior) on organizational culture and evolution. On a global basis, the predominant thinking modes in organizations are driven by senior executives, marketers, financial experts, legal resources, and the engineers and scientists that create our technology-rich world. Each of these groups has, in aggregate, embedded propensities or tendencies that profoundly shape decision-making patterns and overall social dynamics. Dominant propensities can make organizations vulnerable to risks by inhibiting the level of systems thinking and networking necessary to ensure integration within a global socio-ecological context. The spectrum of propensities within an organization shapes the relative resilience of its human and management systems, and ultimately determines organizational effectiveness. This paper proposes a model for organizational evolution that links the role of propensities to adaptability and resilience. Conscious effort to expand the intelligence of organizations through diversification of propensities better equips organizations to achieve adaptability and sustainability.


organizational evolution, propensities, organization effectiveness, teams, adaptiveness, integrated organizational system, complex adaptive systems

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