Books on Self Organization

2 minute read

When I had the chance to join the Certified Team Coach (CTC) Special Interest Group (SIG) for the first time on August, 15th there was a question about where does this “self organisation” thing come from.

I promised to offer a list of books that helped me understanding self organisation and that are quite good sources in my view. Most of the books are written from a scientific perspective. So, if it’s case studies you’re looking for, you might not find the right readings here.

Here we go with a short bookdump.

The Fritz Simon must-read list

Simon wrote a lot of very short books including a lot of theory about organisations, self organisation and

Einführung in Systemtheorie und Konstruktivismus by Fritz B. Simon (AFAIK there is an English translation available, I’ll share a link as soon as I found it)

Einführung in die systemische Organisationstheorie by Fritz B. Simon

The Organisation of Self-Organisation: Foundations of Systemic Mangement by Fritz B. Simon, Sally Hofmeister (Translator)

Stefan Kühl must-read list

Stefan Kühl is a master brain in my view. He not only wrote dozens of articles and books about organisational sociology - his books are very understandable, even if you’re not educated in sociological science.

Organisationen: Eine sehr kurze Einführung by Stefan Kühl – English Edition

Wenn die Affen den Zoo regieren: Die Tücken der flachen Hierarchien by Stefan Kühl – English Edition

Laterales Führen: Eine kurze organisationstheoretisch informierte Handreichung by Stefan Kühl – English Edition

Autopoiesis and self organisation

Der Baum Der Erkenntnis. Die Biologischen Wurzeln Des Menschlichen Erkennens by Humberto R. Maturana, Francisco J. Varela – English Edition

Comment This book is a must read if one would like to understand self organisation. Even if it focuses on cognition, it helped me a lot to understand how self organisation in social systems differ from self organisation of the universe in physics.

Einführung in die Systemtheorie by Niklas Luhmann, Dirk Baecker (Herausgeber), Nicklas Luhmann – English Edition

Comment Luhmann explains how autopoiesis and self organisation are related and how they differ. The book (German Edition) is a dump of his lecture. One of the easier Luhmann readings ;-)

Soziale Systeme. Grundriß einer allgemeinen Theorie by Niklas Luhmann – English Edition

Comment Luhmann’s main work. Tough reading, but worth the time and brainwork. He explains (referring to Parsons, Maturana and Varela) how social systems create and maintain themselves.

Zwei Seiten der Erfahrung: Wie Organisationen intelligenter werden können by James G. March (This book is a translation from English into German, but I have no idea what the original title is)

Comment This book does not discuss self organisation - but it explains how organisations learn. And understanding March’s ideas about how organisations learn helps a lot with getting results regarding self organisation in social systems.