Managing Situations of Complexity and Uncertainty

The English version of the initial article published in JITIPEE journal.


The second industrial revolution saw the development of management methods tailored to the challenges of the times: firstly, the need for mass production, and then, the pursuit of improved quality and customer satisfaction, followed by a push to improve operational performances in response to market globalization. If these approaches were initially inspired by rational mechanistic thinking, they have since gradually broadened to integrate other dimensions such as psychology, sociology and systemic analysis. Business enterprises underwent a profound rethink in the 1990s introducing increasingly refined modi operandi, only to find their environment disrupted by the appearance of two new parameters: complexity and uncertainty. Enterprises of the third industrial revolution were able to integrate these parameters at the outset, introducing new styles of management. However, these may well be deficient with regard to activities where an error may be fatal, or a failure intolerable. Caught between the precautionary principle and the principle of experimentation, the third industrial revolution falters to find the right approach, whereas the fourth industrial revolution is almost already upon us, bringing its lot of upheavals. In this regard, faced with increasing complexities and uncertainties, Research and Development is of particular interest since its vocation consists precisely in confronting the complex and the uncertain. This article examines the fundamental principles of the R&D process, and analyses how these may act as a benchmark for contemporary management by providing sources of inspiration.


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