Group Development: A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective

Mary C Edson


Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000149 EndHTML:0000001360 StartFragment:0000000199 EndFragment:0000001326 StartSelection:0000000199 EndSelection:0000001326 A substantial number of group development models have used sequential or phasic paradigms to create an understanding of group dynamics under normal conditions. Few GD models have used systemic perspectives to explore group dynamics in the face of adversity. This essay compared GD models with an ecological model of complex adaptive cycles to explore group resilience using the four principles of complex adaptive systems (CAS) – self-organization, hierarchy, emergence, and learning.

The comparison was based upon a historical literature review of several theories of GD, CAS, and group resilience. The rationale for this comparison was to bridge a gap in understanding between existing GD models and team resilience using lessons learned from CAS in ecology. The application of a model of complex adaptive cycles informed existing GD models through the four principles of CAS by revealing similarities, differences, and inflection points that provide potential to areas for further research.


Group development; complex adaptive systems; resilience

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