Social networks as embedded complex adaptive systems

J Nurs Adm. 2010 Sep;40(9):352-6. doi: 10.1097/NNA.0b013e3181ee42bc.


As systems evolve over time, their natural tendency is to become increasingly more complex. Studies in the field of complex systems have generated new perspectives on management in social organizations such as hospitals. Much of this research appears as a natural extension of the cross-disciplinary field of systems theory. This is the 15th in a series of articles applying complex systems science to the traditional management concepts of planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling. In this article, the authors discuss healthcare social networks as a hierarchy of embedded complex adaptive systems. The authors further examine the use of social network analysis tools as a means to understand complex communication patterns and reduce medical errors.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Communication*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Leadership
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Medical Errors / psychology
  • Models, Organizational
  • Models, Psychological
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Nurse Administrators* / organization & administration
  • Nurse Administrators* / psychology
  • Personnel Management / methods
  • Planning Techniques
  • Problem Solving
  • Social Support*
  • Sociometric Techniques*
  • Systems Theory*