Recent Article on Organizations and Ecology

Kim Barnes recenty co-authored and article with noted biologist Heather G. Davis entitled, Evolutionary ecology and organizations:a conversation between a biologist and an organization development practitioner. The article has been published in the February issue of  Industrial and Commercial Training. In the article, Kim and Heather dialog about how the principles of natural science give us insight into the ways that human organizations operate.

Heather Davis has a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, Davis, and has published several articles, mainly on invasive species. Heather is also Director of Research at Barnes & Conti.

Here is a quote from the article, from Heather’s side of the conversation:

We’re getting a chance to see what happens to a “business ecosystem” when one element fails—the American auto industry, for example. This example raises a number of important strategic questions: To what degree is it useful to suppress internal competition when the entire community is threatened? Should parts suppliers find ways to collaborate? Do we do better as individual organizations when we join in a conscious community; does that enable us to fend off external threats more successfully? Can small organizations survive better as part of larger networks? is it in the interest of larger organizations to support specific partners and suppliers versus lowest bidder? How do we respond to external changes as part of a community versus lowest bidder? How do we respond to external changes as part of a community versus as individual entities? I like the idea of “mutualism”–finding ways to share scarce resources without stepping all over each other—two non-competing companies sponsoring a marketing event, for example.

The complete article is available on the web via subscription.

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