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Prigogine's Theory of the Dynamics of Far-from-Equilibrium Systems Informs the Role of Strategy Making in Organizational Evolution


  • Burgelman, Robert A.

    (Stanford University)


This paper offers a perspective on how Ilya Prigogine's theoretical ideas rooted in the physical sciences can inform and inspire organization theory and strategic management scholars. To that end, the next section of this paper provides a brief synopsis of some of Prigogine and his collaborators seminal scientific insights in the dynamics of far-from-equilibrium systems in the physical sciences. This is followed by a brief summary of how their insights gleaned from studying the dynamics of far-from-equilibrium systems in the physical sciences may inform the study of social systems. The section following this provides examples of the general applicability of the theory of nonlinear dynamics of far-from-equilibrium systems in economics and organization theory. While Prigogine's theoretical insights have important implications for all levels of social systems, the main purpose of this paper is to examine how his insights inform the role of the strategy-making process in matching the internal and external ecological dynamics that together determine an individual organization's evolution and its longevity. Consequently, in the next to last section of the paper I draw on my own work about the role of strategy-making in organizational evolution to establish conceptual links with the fundamental insights generated by Prigogine and his collaborators. The conclusion section suggests the potential of Prigogine's work to unify the physical and social sciences and to motivate a new philosophy of science.

Suggested Citation

  • Burgelman, Robert A., 2009. "Prigogine's Theory of the Dynamics of Far-from-Equilibrium Systems Informs the Role of Strategy Making in Organizational Evolution," Research Papers 2040, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2040

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