Learning from the Anthropocene: Adaptive Epistemology and Complexity in Strategic Managerial Thinking

Andrew S. Mitchell*, Mark Lemon, W.D.B.H.M. Lambrechts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Turbulence experienced in the business and social realms resonates with turbulence unfolding throughout the biosphere, as a process of accelerating change at the stratigraphic scale termed the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is understood as a multi-dimensional limit point, one dimension of which concerns the limits to the lineal epistemology prevalent since the Age of the
Enlightenment. This paper argues that future conditions necessitate the updating of a lineal epistemology through a transition towards resilience thinking that is both adaptive and ecosystemic. A management paradigm informed by the recognition of multiple equilibria states distinguished by thresholds, and incorporating adaptive and resilience thinking is considered. This paradigm is
thought to enhance flexibility and the capacity to absorb influences without crossing thresholds into alternate stable, but less desirable, states. One consequence is that evaluations of success may change, and these changes are considered and explored as likely on-going challenges businesses must grapple with into the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4427
Number of pages17
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2020


  • epistemology
  • resilience thinking
  • adaptive management
  • anthropocene


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