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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Organizations and states emerge, exist, and evolve through dynamic processes operating across multiple network domains (e.g., political, economic, kinship, religion, and war). Autocatalytic networks—sets of nodes that reproduce themselves through ties—create and sustain organizations, but also contain the seeds of their evolution and destruction. Change occurs through novelty, which can take the form of innovation (transposition of ties or feedback among network domains) or invention (when innovation spills over to alter organizations across an entire domain). Equilibrium (through autocatalysis) and change (through novelty) are not different phenomena in this process-oriented view; they are distinct moments in the same underlying cycle. This chapter first develops a multiple-network perspective about the emergence of organizational novelty and autocatalysis, then applies this perspective to the comparative analysis of communist reform transitions in the Soviet Union under Stalin and Gorbachev, and in China under Mao and Deng Xiaoping.

Keywords: autocatalysis, emergence, evolution, multiple networks, organizational novelty, invention, innovation, transposition, feedback, communism

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