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 International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS2007)

Deterministic chaos and complex dynamics in organizational behaviour: The case of work motivation

Carlos Arrieta Salas
Department of Social Psychology University of Barcelona

José Navarro Cid
Department of Social Psychology University of Barcelona

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     Last modified: August 23, 2007

We have studied work motivation using a longitudinal design in order to determine if organizational behaviour is chaotic and shows complex dynamics. During the past years researchers have found deterministic chaos and complex dynamics in different subjects. For example, Cheng and Van de Ven (1996) proved the presence of chaotic behaviour throughout the innovation process, and Guastello (1998) investigating creative problem solving groups, found evidence of chaos in their productivity, Guastello (1998b) also found evidence of catastrophic behaviour, meaning complex behaviour, in the emergence of leadership within the group. Guastello, Johnson, and Rieke (1999) discovered chaotic dynamics in the motivational flow (that it’s similar to intrinsic motivation), and Navarro, Arrieta, and Ballén (2005) also found complex dynamics, specifically the presence of nonlinear patterns, in work motivation.

Fifty people answer a motivational diary during a month approximately and answered it six times a day. The time series obtained, with about one hundred of records, were analyzed using the Visual Recurrence Analysis (VRA) software and we have found the presence of deterministic chaos in the 78%, random patterns in the 12% and linear patterns in the 10% out of the all cases.

These results show that organizational behaviour follows complex dynamics that can be discovered after using a suitable design and statistical analysis. Including time factor is a key to discover this kind of findings. These results also question some of the nuclear assumptions of classical models (VIE theory, goal setting theory, etc.), for example, the linearity and stability of the motivation.

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