Directors’ Welcome

“Discovering the Simplicity in a Complex World”

William Rand

William Rand
Assistant Professor of Marketing
CCB Director

 

 

 

Roland RustRoland Rust
Distinguished University Professor
David Bruce Smith Chair in Marketing
CCB Executive Director

 

 

The study of Complex Systems is the interdisciplinary study of large groups of interacting, heterogeneous, autonomous entities operating in dynamic, rich, and temporal environments. Complex Systems Science is not defined by a particular group of phenomena, but rather a way of viewing phenomena. Complex systems arise in a number of varied domains from economics to ecology to social science. In each of these domains there are problems that are defined by a large number of individuals that give rise to an emergent pattern, while at the same time that emergent pattern constrains the decisions of the individuals. For instance, in economics, the rise and fall of stock prices is defined by the aggregate patterns of stock purchases, but the ability for traders to buy and sell stocks is dependent on the historical price of those very same stocks.

Many problems in business can be viewed through the lens of complex systems. In Marketing, it has long been speculated that influential individuals are critical to the widespread adoption of innovations. Individual decisions to adopt a new product are not only dependent on their colleagues, but also on the global pattern of adoption, while at the same time they contribute to their colleagues’ decisions and to the global pattern. In Information Systems, the ability to use and be influenced by “Web 2.0” applications is highly dependent on the participation of individuals in those applications, but that decision to participate is often motivated by the current level of participation.

In Management and Organizational Studies, the performance and culture of an organization is dependent on the relationships that individuals maintain within that organization, but at the same time the ability to create and maintain relationships is often facilitated by the performance and culture of the organization.

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. 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.

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 the Center for Complexity in Business @ Smith, the first research center focused on the application of complex systems research to business problems is extremely timely as it will produce important synergies with the School’s focus on Globalization, Entrepreneurship and Technology as well as strengthen its national and international reputation as a pioneer in business school research.

CCB’s objective is to achieve international academic recognition as the leading research center for complexity research applied to business problems. Very high in our agenda is also the objective of educating business leaders, Ph.D. students, MBA students, MS students, and undergraduates in the use of complex systems methods to analyze and solve business problems and helping create a new generation of business school scholars well-versed in complexity research, CCB’s areas of focus include applications of complex system methods in practically all areas of modern management, including marketing, information systems, operations and logistics, finance, and organization science. Faculty affiliated with the Center come from a variety of academic departments, including Marketing, Information Systems, Operations, Strategy, Finance, Psychology, Physics, Engineering, Computer Science, Entrepreneurship, and Management and are engaged in a diverse and exciting set of projects.

We are very excited about this initiative and its potential impact in business and education. Please feel free to contact me if you want additional information or if you would like to be involved in the Center’s activities.

William Rand
Assistant Professor of Marketing
CCB Director

Roland Rust
Distinguished University Professor
David Bruce Smith Chair in Marketing
CCB Executive Director