IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Leading large: emergent learning and adaptation in complex social networks


  • James K. Hazy


The mechanism by which adaptation in large organisations emerges from localised bottom-up processes remains largely unexplored. This paper describes the emergence of a learning algorithm in organisations which crosses levels of analysis. It posits that what is essentially a neural network arises naturally in organisations with individuals as nodes, interactions as edges, and influence relationships among them performing a function that is analogous to synaptic weights. This network structure enables organisations to adapt through a process of influence process structural learning that is analogous to back propagation learning in traditional neural networks. The model describes leadership within top management as expressing the organisation's response to environmental stimuli about which top managers have little direct knowledge. Leadership acts to change influence relationships among managers by altering their relative status and reputations. The theory implies that influence relationships exhibit a power-law distribution, a potential marker of emergent collective agency.

Suggested Citation

  • James K. Hazy, 2012. "Leading large: emergent learning and adaptation in complex social networks," International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 2(1/2), pages 52-73.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijclma:v:2:y:2012:i:1/2:p:52-73

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicolaj Siggelkow & Jan W. Rivkin, 2005. "Speed and Search: Designing Organizations for Turbulence and Complexity," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(2), pages 101-122, April.
    2. Jeffrey Goldstein & James K. Hazy & Benyamin B. Lichtenstein, 2010. "Complexity and the Nexus of Leadership," Palgrave Macmillan Books, Palgrave Macmillan, number 978-0-230-10771-7, March.
    3. James K. Hazy, 2011. "Parsing the 'influential increment' in the language of complexity: uncovering the systemic mechanisms of leadership influence," International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(2), pages 164-191.
    4. Allan P. O. Williams, 2006. "Leadership in Change," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: The Rise of Cass Business School, chapter 15, pages 200-220, Palgrave Macmillan.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Solow & Joseph G. Szmerekovsky, 2014. "Setting leadership goals and getting those goals accomplished: insights from a mathematical model," Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 36-51, March.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Wang Kai, 2019. "Towards a Taxonomy of Idea Generation Techniques," Foundations of Management, Sciendo, vol. 11(1), pages 65-80, January.
    2. Thomas Lans & Wim Hulsink & Herman Baert & Martin Mulder, 2008. "Entrepreneurship Education And Training In A Small Business Context: Insights From The Competence-Based Approach," Journal of Enterprising Culture (JEC), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 16(04), pages 363-383.
    3. Akbar Ali, 2012. "Leadership and its Influence in Organizations ¨C A Review of Intellections," International Journal of Learning and Development, Macrothink Institute, vol. 2(6), pages 73-85, December.
    4. Ayamga, Matthew & Annosi, Maria Carmela & Kassahun, Ayalew & Dolfsma, Wilfred & Tekinerdogan, Bedir, 2024. "Adaptive organizational responses to varied types of failures: Empirical insights from technology providers in Ghana," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    5. Sai Yayavaram & Wei-Ru Chen, 2015. "Changes in firm knowledge couplings and firm innovation performance: The moderating role of technological complexity," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(3), pages 377-396, March.
    6. Nicolai PETROVSKY, 2011. "Measuring The Performance Of Federal Agencies And Programs In The Usa: An Overview And Some Reflections," Proceedings of Administration and Public Management International Conference, Research Centre in Public Administration and Public Services, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 7(1), pages 17-26, June.
    7. Nobuyuki Hanaki & Hideo Owan, 2013. "Autonomy, Conformity and Organizational Learning," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, vol. 3(3), pages 1-21, July.
    8. Smith, Lisa & Rees, Patricia & Murray, Noel, 2016. "Turning entrepreneurs into intrapreneurs: Thomas Cook, a case-study," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 191-204.
    9. Sopiah ., 2013. "The Effect of Compensation toward Job Satisfaction and Job Performance of Outsourcing Employees of Syariah Banks in Malang Indonesai," International Journal of Learning and Development, Macrothink Institute, vol. 3(2), pages 77-91, April.
    10. Andreas Blume & April Mitchell Franco & Paul Heidhues, 2021. "Dynamic coordination via organizational routines," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 72(4), pages 1001-1047, November.
    11. Joe Tidd, 2014. "Conjoint Innovation: Building A Bridge Between Innovation And Entrepreneurship," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 18(01), pages 1-20.
    12. Seda KIZIL & Atılhan NAKTİYOK, 2019. "Bu araştırmanın temel amacı, yöneticilerin göstermiş olduğu stratejik liderlik davranışlarının çalışanlarda oluşan kurumsal itibar algısı üzerindeki etkisinde kurumsal sosyal sorumluluğun (KSS) rolünü," Istanbul Business Research, Istanbul University Business School, vol. 48(1), pages 64-83, May.
    13. Dr. Oris Guillaume & Dr. Andrew Honeycutt & Dr. Craig S. Cleveland, 2012. "Servant Leadership Trends Impact on 21st Century Business," International Journal of Business and Social Research, MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, vol. 2(5), pages 1-7, October.
    14. Trkman, Peter, 2010. "The critical success factors of business process management," International Journal of Information Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 125-134.
    15. Naidoo, Dhesigen & Nhamo, Luxon & Mpandeli, Sylvester & Sobratee, Nafisa & Senzanje, Aidan & Liphadzi, Stanley & Slotow, Rob & Jacobson, Michael & Modi, Albert T. & Mabhaudhi, Tafadzwanashe, 2021. "Operationalising the water-energy-food nexus through the theory of change," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 149(C).
    16. Valtteri Kaartemo & Helena Känsäkoski, 2018. "Information and Knowledge Processes in Health Care Value Co-Creation and Co-Destruction," SAGE Open, , vol. 8(4), pages 21582440188, December.
    17. G. M. Azmal Ali Quaosar, 2018. "Adoption of Human Resource Information Systems in Developing Countries: An Empirical Study," International Business Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 11(4), pages 133-141, April.
    18. Sadia Shakeel & Muhammad Majid Khan & Rao Aamir Ali Khan & Bahaudin G. Mujtaba, 2022. "Linking Personality Traits, Self-Efficacy and Burnout of Teachers in Public Schools: Does School Climate Play a Moderating Role?," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 19-39, March.
    19. MacIntosh, Eric W. & Doherty, Alison, 2010. "The influence of organizational culture on job satisfaction and intention to leave," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 106-117, May.
    20. Mohammed-Aminu Sanda & Pearl Adjei-Benin, 2011. "How is the Firm Dealing with the Merger?A Study of Employee Satisfaction with the Change Process," Journal of Management and Strategy, Journal of Management and Strategy, Sciedu Press, vol. 2(2), pages 28-37, June.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ids:ijclma:v:2:y:2012:i:1/2:p:52-73. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sarah Parker (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.