Managing schools as complex adaptive systems: A strategic perspective

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Tuncer Fidan Ali Balcı


This conceptual study examines the analogies between schools and complex adaptive systems and identifies strategies used to manage schools as complex adaptive systems. Complex adaptive systems approach, introduced by the complexity theory, requires school administrators to develop new skills and strategies to realize their agendas in an ever-changing and complexifying environment without any expectations of stability and predictability. The results indicated that in this period administrators need to have basic skills such as (a) diagnosing patterns emerging from complexity, (b) manipulating the environment by anticipating potential patterns organizations may evolve into, (c) choosing organizational structures compatible with an ever-changing and complexifying environment and (d) promoting innovation to create and manage organizational changes. Although these skills enable administrators to reduce complexity into a manageable form to some extent, stakeholders’ having a common perspective regarding their schools and environments, and executing their activities in accordance with a shared vision are required to turn these skills into complexity management strategies.


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FIDAN, Tuncer; BALCI, Ali. Managing schools as complex adaptive systems: A strategic perspective. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 1, p. 11-26, oct. 2017. ISSN 1307-9298. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 oct. 2017.


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