Discussing the Use of Complexity Theory in Engineering Management: Implications for Sustainability

Gianpaolo Abatecola, Alberto Surace
2020 Sustainability  
What is the state-of-the-art literature regarding the adoption of the complexity theory (CT) in engineering management (EM)? What implications can be derived for future research and practices concerning 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, because it is currently considered the leading journal in EM, and is as a reliable, heuristic proxy. From
more » ... his 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) The adoption of CT has been witnessed in an increasing amount of publications, with a focus on 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. However, only a limited number of studies appear to formally adhere to CT, to explain the different EM issues investigated. Thus, we derive various implications for EM research (concerning the research in and practice on sustainability issues).
doi:10.3390/su122410629 fatcat:wlanhwpsyrduhpp3twh7lpjrsa