NEW COMPLEXITY RESEARCH
Article Title: "Discussing the Use of Complexity Theory in Engineering Management: Implications for Sustainability". Sustainability, 2020, 12(24), 10629.
Authors: Gianpaolo Abatecola (Tor Vergata University of Rome), and Alberto Surace (CASD - Center for Defense Higher Studies, Italian Ministry of Defense).
Abstract: What is the state-of-the-art regarding the adoption of Complexity Theory (CT) in Engineering Management (EM)? What main implications can be derived for the future research and practice about sustainability issues? In this conceptual article we critically discuss the current status of complexity research in EM. In this regard, we use IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, also because currently considered as the leading journal in EM, as a reliable, heuristic proxy. From this journal, we analyze 38 representative publications on the topic published since 2000 and extrapolated through a rigorous keyword-based article search. In particular, we show that: 1) the adoption of CT has been associated with a wide range of key themes in EM, such as new product development, supply chain and project management; 2) this adoption has been witnessing an increasing trend of publications, with conceptual modeling based on fuzzy logics, stochastic, or agent-based modeling prevailing; 3) many key features of CT seem to be quite clearly observable in our dataset, with modeling and optimizing decision making under uncertainty as the dominant theme. Perhaps surprisingly, however, only a limited number of studies still appears to formally adhere to CT to explain the different EM issues investigated. We thus derive various implications for the EM research in and practice on sustainability issues.