About the Center
Robert H. Smith’s Center for Complexity in Business (CCB) is the world’s
first (and only) research center specializing in the application of complex
systems methods to business problems.
The term “complex systems” characterizes systems that consist of large
numbers of components that exhibit non-linear interactions and whose behavior
cannot be adequately understood or predicted by simple global models and
parameters. The past ten years have witnessed an explosion in the field of
complexity as the availability of cheap computational power has allowed
researchers and practitioners to successfully apply complex systems methods to
analyze previously intractable problems in areas as diverse as engineering,
physics, biology, sociology, brain science, and organization science.
At exactly the same time, important trends, such as globalization and rapid
advances in Internet and communications technologies have rendered business
systems more complex and unpredictable than ever. Traditional management
research tools, such as game theory, operations research, statistical analysis,
field experiments, etc. face growing difficulties in helping us understand the
complex and interconnected world of modern business. Some fields, notably
strategy, organization science and marketing, have already begun experimenting
with the use of complex methods with extremely promising results.
We believe that we are at an inflexion point where complexity methods are
going to enter the mainstream of management research. We, therefore, believe
that the establishment of a Research Center (the first one of its kind) focused
on the application of complex systems research to business problems at the Smith
School of Business is extremely timely.