Organizational Memetics: Nature-Centered Perspectives on Organizations

Nature-Centered approaches recognize the possibility that aspects of social systems are analogous – “memetic” – to biological systems. Both systems are complex and adaptive, but the extent to which our understanding of biological systems can (or should) inform the study of human social systems remains an open question. At this year’s conference we’d like to explore the use of “memetics” as a theoretical framework for organizations – a prism to consider the conceptual interplay of social and biological systems. Memes were first described by Richard Dawkins as ideas, symbols, and practices transmitted within and across cultures from generation to generation. The viability of memetic theory remains controversial, but recent studies enhance the concept and explanatory methods to study organizational phylogenesis (the evolution of human organizations that comprise our social systems). And with the recent pandemic starting to appear in our rear-view mirror, what of its “nature” in a "memetic” form becomes reflected in how we come to understand the future of sociality? And in these considerations, what are the broader lessons learned for organizations, and their informational systems, as they necessarily adapt, evolve, and offer transformative pathways for common good.