LSE Complexity EPSRC Short Course 2007
Prof. Eve Mitleton-Kelly EMK
Prof. Jeff Johnson JJ
Dr Ugur Bilge UB
Nazreeen A. Subhan NAS
Guest Speakers GS
The guest speakers will discuss their topic and take questions for the first hour, the whole group will then discuss what has been presented using the principles of complexity, thus applying the theory to real world problems. The speakers have been invited to present not only real issues but also to expand the discussion beyond companies e.g. the evolution of coins in India and the regeneration of communities.
Philippa Foster-Back, 22 March, will discuss 'Business Ethics and Competitive Advantage' to explore some ethical issues, such as reputation management, faced by today's business leaders and bring us through a practical exercise.
Philip Yea, 23 March: ‘Creating clarity of vision in a fast changing market’
Lord David Curry, 28 March will talk about his experience of transforming organisations, both at Cass and Ofcom, and the lessons that were learnt from that.
STUDENTS THAT HAVE ATTENDED THE ENTIRE COURSE WILL BE AWARDED A CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE
1. Introduction to complexity theory.
2. Qualitative methods
Participants will be taught how to conduct semi-structured interviews, analyse the data from verbatim transcripts and present it back to the interviewees for validation at a facilitated Reflect-Back Workshop. The facilitated group analysis will use not only common themes, but also dilemmas, key questions and underlying assumptions, as well as the principles of complexity introduced earlier.
The Complexity Group at the London School of Economics works with organisations in the private and public sectors, that have apparently intractable problems and has developed a method based on complexity theory, of identifying the multiple, underlying causes that together create the problem space or an enabling environment.
Two practical examples will be discussed. One was part of a project which attempted to understand how one organisation improved its alignment quite significantly. It will not offer any solutions, but it will illustrate some of the multiple, inter-related and co-evolving causes that together created an enabling environment which facilitated improved alignment. Making sense in an organisation is part of understanding the full context in which decisions are made; while mono-causal approaches offer impaired sense-making and thus tend to lead to ineffective decisions.
The other example was part of the ICoSS project, funded by the EPSRC, which looked at systems integration. Company EnF acquired an organisation made up of small firms that had already gone through a series of M&As (mergers and acquisitions) in a different but related market to its main operations. The parent company was primarily a UK organisation while the acquired company (AcqC) was distributed throughout Scandinavia. There were therefore apparently significant cultural differences and in the first two years after the merger these tended to overshadow other differences in business processes and procedures. At this point EnF joined the LSE Complexity Group project. The research findings showed that national cultural differences were not a significant issue, but other areas that impacted on the relationship with the AcqC did need more urgent attention.
Eighteen months into the project, the relationship between the parent and the AcqC had improved and the new company had increased its market share. The integration process in EnF was much more successful than in SSF, partly due to the recognition of a problem early on and an attempt to correctly identify and remedy the situation.
[Ref: Mitleton-Kelly E. (2007, forthcoming) ‘The Emergence of Final Cause’ in Aaltonen, M. The Third Lens. Multi-ontology Sense-making and Strategic Decision-making. Ashgate Publishing Limited. Aldershot, ISBN 0 7546 4798 6
Mitleton-Kelly E. & Puszczynski LR 2006 “An Integrated Methodology to Facilitate The Emergence of New Ways of Organising” ” in Unifying Themes in Complex Systems, Vol. V, Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Complex Systems, eds Y. Bar-Yam and A. Minai, Springer 2006,http://necsi.org/events/iccs/2004proceedings.html, paper #659]
Since these examples are with business organisations, guest speakers have been invited to talk about the application of the theory to other areas of social complexity.
Professor Mitleton-Kelly will lead the introduction to complexity and the training on setting up, conducting and analysing interviews and presenting the findings. She has conducted over 500 interviews, has led 4 EPSRC projects, is a co-investigator in an ESRC project using the LSE method of analysis, and has trained several researchers. The students will also be guided on how to present findings to a business audience in an accessible way.
Nazreen A. Subhan will facilitate the day-long group analysis. She has facilitated similar group analyses with Rolls-Royce Marine in the ICoSS project, the LSE Challenges to Leadership Project, and the previous EPSRC training course.
3. Agent Based Modelling
Dr Ugur Bilge will lecture on the use of ABM, and show different models in different contexts. Participants will have hands on experience on a number of web based ABM simulations. Participants will be helped to devise and complete a questionnaire for investigating informal social networks in the course. The data will be analysed by Dr Bilge, and will be shown back to the class for discussion.
4. Network Theory
Networks in Complex Social Systems
 Motivation for the Network Component
Networks are fundamental to understanding, designing, managing and controlling social systems. The fundamental defining feature of social systems are characterised by relationships between people. If we represent people by dots on a piece of paper, a line between two dots can show that they are linked by the relationship. Put together a lot of these links and you see a network. Networks are pictures, and most people find this a useful and natural way to see or think about the ‘web’ of relationships that characterise any particular social system. Networks are pictures are most people assimilate their meaning intuitively. Social scientists have be drawing network pictures for more than half a century. It can be argued that networks are a fundamental metaphor of human thought. As such they form a powerful method of representing social structures. Furthermore, social dynamics involves changes in network structures, such as the formation of coalitions and the breakdown of families. Networks underlie the social fabric of human systems at every level.
At the microlevel relationships between young girls are defined with exquisite precision, young men crave the respect relationship, and the rest us juggle complementary and competing relationships between us and our family members, pets, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and many others. At the mesolevel we are part of social structures with their own relationships: departments working with or fighting other departments and head office, SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) providing complementary services, local authority units fighting for budget and passing the buck. At macrolevels multinational companies dance rings round disconnected government departments, while countries ‘posture’ as to ‘who will blink first’ in trade relations or possession of nuclear power (with its link to nuclear weapons).
While the many levels between micro and macro have their own inter-level network structures, there are also complicated intra-level network structures. Macro-level nations don’t blink, but their micro-level leaders do – subject to micro-level psychology which we like to see investigated in chilling films about Hitler or hilarious Strangelove portrayals. These examples show that social systems are characterised by hundreds if not thousands of relevant social networks. Any of them may be complicated, but together they can interact and evolve in unpredictable ways. Network theory provides a methodology for representing and analysing interaction-based complex systems, and formulating theories of their dynamics.
2] Objectives and Learning Outcomes
It will be assumed that students have no prior knowledge of network theory. The objectives of this component of the course are to
• introduce the concept of network, basic network structures, and network dynamics
• show the relationship between network theory and computer simulation
• collect data on and analyse students’ own networks
• abstract and analyse organisational network structures from interview data
• have students reflect on the application of network theory in their own research
• critically evaluate network theory as a contribution to scientific methodology
The learning outcomes of the course will be (i) the ability to define fundamental network structures, (ii) the ability to work simultaneously with many relationships of different types, (iii) the ability to discriminate between and be able to work with binary relations and relationships between many things, (iii) understanding the network-theoretic nature of multilevel systems and their intra- and inter-level dynamics, and the ability to work with multilevel systems (iv) the experience of analysing networks at different levels, (v) the ability to understand where network theory can be usefully applied, illustrated by whether or not network theory is appropriate for the student’s own research, (vi) knowing how to run a network-based simulation, and (vii) knowing where to find further information and literature of network theory.
 Outline of the course
The course will cover the usual network concepts including nodes, edges, paths, cliques, cuts, components, network flows. It will include references to recent ideas such as robustness, small world networks, scale-free degree distributions, preferential attachment. It will also consider systems of interacting heterogeneous networks and their multilevel dynamics. Students are expected to engage in hands-on activities, including data collection, analysis and interpretation.
 Using web-delivered teaching materials, students follow instructions to collect data on their own social networks, and submit it before the course begins.
 Ice-breaker: my research and what I’m hoping for from network theory
 Lecture: An introduction to network theory. Part I Break – informal discussions
Lecture: An introduction to network theory. Part II Break – informal discussions
Group: Presentations of individual networks from  and discussion.
 Group: Abstracting network data from the questionnaires. Part I. We will split into four or five teams with half a dozen people in each team.
Each team will abstract network data from the questionnaires.
Break - informal discussions
Abstracting network data from the questionnaires. Part II.
Teams will present their findings
Break - informal discussions
Abstracting network data from the questionnaires. Part III.
Teams will synthesise their findings into a single web of networks
 Running a network-based computer simulation
 Individuals: My research and how networks can/cannot help.
Group: Discussion – is network theory useful in complex social systems?
Group: Where next? Where can we find out more? What else can we do?
 Assessment (optional)
Students wanting a formal assessment of the network course will be offered the option of submitting a short paper based on what they have learned. This will be graded and an appropriate certificate awarded. The assessment will be tailored to the individual student.
Agent Based Modelling
Dr Ugur Bilge
Agent Based Modelling (ABM) is a relatively recent computer paradigm [1, 2, 3]. As opposed to classic computer simulations, the ABM approach is a “bottom-up” modelling technique, sometimes resulting in unexpected, so-called “emergent” behaviour. ABM applications model a medium to high number of independent agents such as shoppers in a supermarket  or workers in an organisation  for the investigation of overall system behaviour. Today ABM in the social context is often used together with Network Analysis techniques [6, 7] and network animation tools for visualising and simulating social agents in organisations.
EPSRC ICoSS Project  used the ABM approach to visualise social networks in an organisation, to investigate connectivity patterns and informal networks, to identify hubs and lynchpins as well as communications bottlenecks. The ABM module in ICoSS primarily focused on the “who knows who” question in an organisation.
It will be assumed that students have no prior knowledge of ABM. The objectives of this component of the course are to:
• introduce, and demonstrate complexity with visual demos
• introduce the concept of ABM simulation environments
• provide hands-on experience of ABM
• demonstrate real world examples of ABM
• prepare a questionnaire to search for social networks in the course
Lecture: Complexity and Chaos background and demos
ABM practical session in Computer Lab
Lecture: ABM in the real world (supermarkets, transport, COPD, Oil World)
Group Work: Prepare own ABM application and present
Lecture: ICoSS Project, Informal Social Networks in the Work place
Group Work: Preparing a questionnaire for social networks in the course
Present analysed questionnaire results back to the group
1. Stuart Kauffman, At home in the Universe, Penguin Books, 1995
2. Joshua M. Epstein and Robert Axtell, Growing Artificial Societies – Social Science from the bottom up, 1996
3. John L. Casti, Would-be Worlds, John Wiley & Sons, 1997
4. John L. Casti, Firm Forecast, New Scientist, 24 April 1999, p42-46
5. Ugur Bilge, Modelling Connectivity in the Work Place, ICoSS Project Report, LSE, March 2005
6. Albert Laszlo Barabasi, Linked – The new science of Networks, Perseus Publishing, 2002
7. Mark Buchanan, Small World: Uncovering nature’s hidden networks, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2002
Prof. Eve Mitleton-Kelly is founder and Director of the Complexity Research Programme at the London School of Economics; visiting Professor at the Open University; was Coordinator of Links with Business, Industry and Government of the first European Complex Systems Network of Excellence, Exystence (2003-2006); Member of ONCE-CS Coordinating Action on Complex Systems; Executive Co-ordinator of SOL-UK (London) (Society for Organizational Learning); and Advisor to European and USA organisations. EMK’s recent work has concentrated on the implications of the theories of complexity for organizations and specifically on strategy and policy development and on the creation of enabling environments to facilitate the reduction of problems associated with IT legacy systems (2 EPSRC awards under the SEBPC programme); on identifying initial requirements (EPSRC collaborative project with the aerospace industry); on organisational (e.g. post M&A) integration (EPSRC project under the Systems Integration Initiative); corporate governance (ESRC project with 4 other universities); sustainable development in communities, organizational learning, the emergence of new organizational forms, the ‘design’ of organizations, co-evolutionary sustainability, diversity, art and complexity. She has developed a theory of complex social systems and an integrated methodology using both qualitative and quantitative tools and methods. The theory is being used for teaching at universities around the world. She has edited a volume and written on complexity. Publications and the work of the LSE Complexity Group are at www.lse.ac.uk/complexity
Her first career between 1967-83, was with the British Civil Service in the Department of Trade and Industry, where she was involved in the formulation of policy and the negotiation of EU Directives.
Prof. Jeff Johnson is Professor of Complexity Science and Design at the Open University. Before this he was in the Department of Geography at Cambridge University and the Department of Mathematics at Essex University. He is a chartered engineer and chartered mathematician, and has extensive industrial experience. He has spent thirty years developing a theory of multilevel multidimensional hypernetworks for the design, management and control of complex socio-technical systems. This theory has been applied to many interaction networks, including city planning, very large road traffic networks, organisational structure and management, design, battlefield dynamics, machine vision, intelligent systems and robot communities. He is leader of the European ONCE-CS project (Open Network of Centres of Excellence in Complex Systems) and a member of the GIACS consortium (General Industrial Applications of Complex Systems). Professor Johnson believes that the science of complex systems must be advanced through applications across a wide spectrum of social, biological and natural sciences.
Dr Ugur Bilge has a PhD in Computer Science from University College London, where he worked in the early 90s as a research assistant in European research projects on Neural Nets and Genetic Algorithms. Later he worked as a consultant at the Logistics Innovation Centre, J. Sainsbury plc where he designed and developed state-of-the-art software tools for Forecasting, Optimisation, Planning and Scheduling applications for Finance, Retail and Logistics, applying techniques such as Neural Nets, Genetic Algorithms, Fuzzy Logic, and the Complex Adaptive Systems approach.
In 1998 he co-founded SimWorld Ltd in the UK, a consultancy and innovative solutions company, and developed SimStore, a realistic simulation of a supermarket layout with moving customers. Since then he has been developing Agent Based Simulations for a number of clients. Ugur Bilge was the Modelling Expert for the ICoSS Project at London School of Economics. He developed the Organisational Forms Simulator, a network visualisation and simulation tool for exploring informal social networks, and investigating patterns of connectivity within business organisations.
He is now Assistant Professor at the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, at Akdeniz University, in Antalya, Turkey, where he is involved in a number of research projects applying the Agent Based Modelling approach to social, medical and healthcare problems.
Nazreen A. Subhan is an Associate Researcher in the LSE Complexity Group contributing to the development of methodology and practice. Her earliest work includes: Experiencing Complexity Thinking in Practice – The Humberside TEC Story (Mitleton-Kelly and Subhan 2001). This was a multi-perspective narrative using the lens of complexity to ‘capture’ how this way of thinking and seeing the world changed how the TEC ‘managed’, designed and structured its organisation, creating new ways of working and relating. Nazreen has been the ‘in-house’ facilitator in the LSE Complexity Group of inter-organisational learning using complexity principles, incorporating the idea of multiple interacting co-evolving elements that influence each other via a collaborative action research approach.
Selected research from 1999 to date as part of the Complexity Group at LSE: research into Complexity Perspectives and Organisational Learning including complexity science in practice in organisations; leadership; IT legacy issues; trust, risk and creativity in inter-organisational relationships; enabling infrastructures in organisations. Recent research into the Integration of Complex Social Systems including the co-creation of new organisational forms. Organisations Nazreen has worked with during her research include: Humberside TEC, the UK Aerospace Industry, Shell, BT, NHS. She is currently part of an LSE team training the whole IT group at GlaxoSmithKline in applying complexity thinking in their work with the intention of improving relationships and relationship skills.
Nazreen also has a successful Change Agency Practice, begun in the late 1970s. She is currently developing her art through working on the themes of leadership and human purpose.
Philippa Foster Back OBE, is the Director of the Institute of Business Ethics and has over 25 years of business experience. She began her career at Citibank NA before joining Bowater in their Corporate Treasury Department in 1979, leaving in 1988 as Group Treasurer. She was Group Finance Director at DG Gardner Group, a training organisation, prior to joining Thorn EMI in 1993 as Group Treasurer. She was appointed IBE’s Director in August 2001. She has a number of external appointments, including at the Ministry of Defence, for which she was awarded the OBE in 2006, The Institute of Directors and the Association of Corporate Treasurers, where she was President from 1999 to 2000. In 2006 she was appointed Chairman of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.
Philip Yea is the Chief Executive of 3i Group plc, a world leading private equity and venture capital company. Philip joined 3i in July 2004. Prior to 3i, Philip was a managing director at Investcorp, where his main focus was on the performance of portfolio investments. Philip joined Investcorp in 1999 from Diageo. He spent six years as Group Finance Director, both at Guinness and then at Diageo after Guiness's merger with GrandMet in 1997. Philip's 13-year career at Guinness/Diageo mainly involved financial positions but also saw him in a number of wider-ranging roles including the Chairmanship of The Gleneagles Hotel and Guinness Publishing. He was also a director of Moet Hennessy. Philip is a non-Executive Director of Vodafone Group Plc. He has also been a non-Executive Director of HBOS plc and Manchester United PLC.
Philip is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has a degree in Modern Languages (French and Spanish) from Oxford University where he was at Brasenose College.
Dr Paul Stevens is Vice President of information technology at GSK UK Pharma. He assumed this role in January 2001 with the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham. Dr Stevens joined Glaxo as a research scientist in 1974 and worked in Microbial Biochemistry where he helped to develop early techniques of high-throughput screening of samples for potential new medicines. In 1986, Dr Stevens moved into the IT department of the commercial arm of Glaxo. Since that time he has been involved in many aspects of IT within Manufacturing , HR and Corporate at both a local and global level. Dr Stevens holds a PhD in biochemistry from Brunel University, an MSc in Biochemistry from London University and a BSc in Pharmacology from Bradford University.
Dr Katrina Wyatt is a founder member of the Health Complexity Group and a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Health and Social Care, Peninsula Medical School. Recent research projects include a prospective 2 year longitudinal study and an 18 month retrospective study to gain an understanding of the enablers and barriers to regeneration projects in West Cornwall. The Health Complexity Group are currently working on a series of research projects to gain an understanding of what the necessary conditions for transformational change in health and social care communities are. She also holds the grant for a research programme called ‘Folk.us’. This programme is funded by the Department of Health and is aimed at securing meaningful service user, patient and carer involvement in research and development.
Dr Robin Durie is Senior Lecturer in Politics, Exeter University & Senior Research Fellow, Peninsula Medical School. His research interests lie in two main areas. First, he undertakes research in political philosophy in the 'Continental' tradition. He has expertise in the history of phenomenology, and, in particular, in the philosophies of Bergson and Deleuze. In this area, he has published work on problems of time, change and difference. He is committed to interdisciplinary research, and has a long track record of active collaboration with leading scholars in the fields of physics, biology, mathematics, art, design and architecture. It is on the basis of this collaborative work that he developed his other main area of research, in public policy, and specifically research for the National Health Service. For the last four years, he has undertaken research with colleagues in the Health Complexity Group, based at the Peninsula Medical School, into processes of change in the NHS. A further dimension of this work has been to investigate processes of social and urban regeneration in the South West and Cornwall.