Keywords: complex adaptive systems, CAS, September 11 2001, 9&, #47, 11, supply chain management, SCM, exploratory qualitative research, USA, complexity theory, trucking industry, USA, United States, information systems, organisational change, response behaviours, unexpected events
Application of a complex adaptive systems perspective: a post 9/11 survey of US trucking managers
Complexity theory addresses an important problem with standard business models that assume linear organisational behaviour and ignore the ambiguity that exists in complex environments. This study frames the US trucking industry as a complex adaptive system (CAS). Framing the US trucking industry in this manner offers the potential to more accurately represent the industry's complex reality and ability to adapt to disruptive events. The historical 9/11 attacks are chosen as the backdrop for qualitative in-depth interviews among trucking terminal managers. The interviews demonstrate the application of exploratory research for obtaining feedback to environmental change at different management levels. The authors propose that senior managers use feedback from terminal managers to guide the adaptive evolution of information systems and whole organisations and to reshape the firm and optimise adaptation to change. Interactions among management and operations offer potential for predicting response behaviours to unexpected environmental events and for managing future responses.