A Case Study of Applying Complexity Leadership Theory in Thales UK

  • Dawn GilbertEmail author
  • Laura Shrieves
  • Mike Yearworth
Conference paper


Organisations with core capabilities in systems engineering solution development often fail to meet delivery expectations in terms of cost and timeframe. This outcome is viewed as an emergent property of the development organisation, which can be considered a Complex Adaptive System (CAS). The context needed to support complex technical innovation within the organisational CAS appears to be in conflict with a hierarchical bureaucracy in development organisations, whose methods and approaches are best suited to simple and complicated contexts. The paper identifies Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) as a framework that may offer a way forward in this space. The paper describes two industry-based case studies that sought to practically apply CLT, and provides insights that may be useful to other industrialists interested in applying CLT within their contexts.



Dawn Gilbert is registered on the Engineering Doctorate (EngD) Program in Systems at the University of Bristol. This work is supported by the University of Bristol, UK Systems Centre, the EPSRC funded Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems (Grant EP/G037353/1) and Thales UK.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Industrial Doctorate Centre in SystemsUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Thales UKCrawleyUK
  3. 3.Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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