A 3-year EPSRC-funded
collaborative research project working with BT, Modernisation Agency of the
NHS, Norwich Union Life and Rolls-Royce
Marine, which started in September 2001 and ended in December 2004.
· AIM: To co-create,
with our business partners an enabling environment to facilitate integration
and the emergence of a new organisational form.
By identifying the social, cultural, technical (as well as political and
economic) conditions that facilitate the emergence of new ways of organising
and new organisational forms. The ICoSS
Project is using
the principles of complexity as the underpinning theoretical framework.
Funded under the EPSRC (Engineering
and Physical Science Research Council) Systems
Integration Initiative programme, the ICOSS research project is studying:
· the integration of national, business, cultural, and technical
systems in the emergent organisational forms;
· the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs)
in facilitating connectivity and the exchange of 'knowledge';
· the tension between globalisation and local cultures and requirements.
The project was awarded
the highest EPSRC grant the LSE had received and the examining Panel rated it
first in its list of project priorities.
1. To identify and articulate the
conditions that enable and inhibit the creation and sustainability
of new organisational forms, able to co-evolve with a changing environment, thus
reducing the need for constant restructuring.
2. To co-create with our Business partners, company-specific frameworks
of enabling infrastructures (cultural, social and technical conditions that
3. To encapsulate the results in generic frameworks, analytic
tools, diagrams and supporting computer-based models.
4. To explore processes for the sharing of knowledge within the
5. To continue developing a theory of complex social systems,
while testing it in practice.
6. To build a comprehensive methodology based on the logic and the
principles of complexity, using both qualitative and quantitative methods and
7. To contribute to a business language that allows line managers
to use complexity concepts in practical contexts.
· The project used a combined approach based on collaborative action
research involving 'natural experiments'.
· Natural experiments are new ways of working and relating being
explored by the organisation itself. They are different from the dominant
culture and 'emergent' in the sense that they are not pre-designed or imposed
top-down, but are exploratory and bottom-up.
· The methodology
uses both conventional practice studies such as case studies, interviews and
opinion surveys for evaluation, as well as exploring and developing new methods
and tools, such as agent-based models, art and visual facilitation, conceptual
architectures, and email exchange mapping (NetMap). It also explored how
qualitative and quantitative methods complement each other. It uses the
logic of complexity to underpin the entire methodology as well as the principles
of complexity as an analytic tool.
· By taking part in the collaborative action research process, business
partners derived benefits which accrued in a continuous stream
throughout the life of the project, not just at the end.
· The project provided practitioners with a new conceptual framework,
while testing and refining the theory in practice.
· A multi-disciplinary group of International Expert Advisors from academia
and business contributed different perspectives, knowledge and