Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 237–246 | Cite as

A Note on the Correspondence Between Complexity and Systems Theory

  • Steven E. Phelan


Complexity theory shares a common vocabulary with systems theory. Terms such as emergence, complexity, and adaptation appear in both traditions. Despite the similarities, complexity theory is not a misnomer for systems theory. Several points of departure exist in complexity's research agenda and methods. Moreover, while systems theory appears to have embraced interpretivist and critical philosophies, complexity theory remains firmly in the positivist camp, despite claims that it is a postmodern science.

chaos complexity systems theory positivism realism 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven E. Phelan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversity of Texas at DallasRichardson

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