Complementarity – what it means for organizational change

In my research into sustainable leadership practices, I have come across some helpful research on “complementarity”, which may provide both an answer to the question of “why does it seem so hard for the average organisation to change?” and potential guidance for organisations who do attempt to make a  change, especially a change to being a sustainable organisation.

I first came across the idea courtesy of John Roberts and the Modern Firm and am now perusing the supporting literature.

The essence of the academic idea of complementarity is that variables (in this case organisational performance variables) are complements when “doing (more of) one of them increases the returns of doing (more of) the other” (Roberts, 2004, p34).


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