Bill McKelvey

Professor Emeritus

Phone: (310) 825-7796

Fax: (310) 206-2002


UCLA Anderson School of Management
110 Westwood Plaza, Box 951481
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481

Bill McKelvey is currently Professor of Strategic Organizing and Complexity Science at UCLA Anderson. Early articles focus on organization and socio-technical systems design. His book, Organizational Systematics (1982), remains the definitive treatment of organizational taxonomy and evolutionary theory.

He chaired the Building Committee that produced the $110,000,000 Anderson Complex at UCLA—opened in 1994. As Director of the Center for Rescuing Strategy & Organization Science (SOS), he initiated activities leading to the founding of UCLA’s Center Human Complex Systems and Computational Social Science. He organized various agent-modeling speaker programs and conferences at UCLA. He co-edited Variations in Organization Science (with Joel Baum, 1999), a Special Issue of the complexity journal, Emergence (with Steve Maguire, 1999), a Special Issue of the Journal of Information Technology applying complexity science to IT, IS, and Knowledge Management concerns (co-edited with Jasmine Merali, 2006), and now the SAGE Handbook of Complexity and Management (coeditors are Peter Allen & Steve Maguire, 2010). Also editing 5 books (~2000 pages) on Complexity Science for Routledge's Major Works Series (also due in 2010). Has published over 50 complexity-related articles & chapters. A Cambridge University Press book is in process, titled Complexity Dynamics in Organizations: Applications of Order-Creation Science.

He has advised some 170 student consulting projects in firms. He has produced more dissertation award-winning doctoral students than any other B-school professor in the US. His doctoral course, “Management Applications of Complexity Science and Agent-based Models,” reviews the Santa Fe Institute inspired literature aimed at using mutually influencing agent interactions and computational models to explain the dynamics of socio-economic systems. It builds from recent developments in epistemology, natural science, Econophysics, and agent-based computational modeling to construct a bottom-up, model-centered social science. Newest MBA course offered is: “Complexity Leadership: The Secret of Jack Welch’s Success.”


Ph.D. Management, 1967, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
S.M. Management, 1962, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
B.A. Physics and Economics 1960, Monmouth College
  • McKelvey, B., P. Andriani, M. Boisot, & A. Lewin. (Forthcoming). Why Pareto-based Organization Science is Necessary. Organization Science,
  • Boisot, M., & B. McKelvey. (Forthcoming). Connectivity, Extremes, and Power Laws: Towards a Power-law Science of Organizational Effectiveness. Journal of Management Inquiry,
  • Boisot, M. & B. McKelvey. (Forthcoming). Integrating Modernist and Postmodernist Perspectives on Organizations: A Complexity Science Bridge. Academy of Management Review,
  • McKelvey, B. (Forthcoming). Complexity Leadership: Jack Welch's Secret to Success. International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management, 1(1).
  • Yalamova, R., & B. McKelvey. (2010). Adding Resilience To Financial Markets: Toward a Volatility-based, Power-Law Indicated, Resilience Initiation Point. G. Sundstrom & E. Hollnagel (eds.). Governance and Control of Financial Systems: A Resilience Engineering Perspective,
  • McKelvey, B. (2010). Scientific Realism. In P. Allen, S. Maguire, & B. McKelvey (eds.). Handbook of Complexity and Management, London: Sage.
  • Andriani, P., & B. McKelvey. (2010). From Skew Distributions to Power-Law Science. In P. Allen, S. Maguire & B. McKelvey (eds.). Handbook of Complexity and Management, London: Sage.
  • Boisot, M., & McKelvey, B. (2010). Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety: A Complexity Perspective. In P. Allen, S. Maguire & B. McKelvey (eds.). Handbook of Complexity and Management, London: Sage.
  • McKelvey, B. (2010). Fixing the UK's Economy. In J. McGlade, M. Strathern & K. Richardson (eds.). Complexity in Human and Natural Systems, Litchfield Part, AZ: ISCE Publishing.
  • McKelvey, B. (2010). Murray Gell-Mann: Celebrating Connectivity Dynamics Among Agents in Organizations - From Deep Simplicity to Requisite Fractality. In Olivier Germain (ed.). Les Grands Inspirateurs de la Theorie des Organisations, Caen, Fr: Editions Management et Societe, (EMS).
  • Carbonara, N., I. Giannoccaro & B. McKelvey. (2010). Making Geographical Clusters More Adaptive: Complexity-based Policies. Emergence: Complexity & Organization, 12(1).
  • Andriani, P., & B. McKelvey. (2010). Using Scale-free Theory from Complexity Science to Better Management Risk. Risk Management, An International Journal, 12(1): 54-82.
  • McKelvey, B., Wycisk, C. & Hulsmann, M. (2009). Designing Learning Capabilities of Complex 'Smart Parts' Logistics Markets: Lessons from LeBaron's Stock Market Computational Model. International Journal of Production Economics, 120: 476-494.
  • Andriani, P., & B. McKelvey. (2009). Extremes & Scale-Free Dynamics in Organization Science. Organization Science, 20(6): 1053-1071.
  • Shepard, J., & B. McKelvey. (2009). An Empirical Investigation of Organizational Memetic Variation. Journal of Bioeconomics, 11(2): 135-164.
  • Boisot, M., & B. McKelvey. (2009). Redefining Strategic Foresight: 'Fast' and 'Far' Sight via Complexity Science. In L A. Costanzo & R. B. MacKay (eds.). Handbook of Research on Strategy and Foresight, Cheltenham, UK: Elgar, 15-47.
  • McKelvey, B. (2009). Commensurability, Rhetoric, & Ephemera: Searching for Clarity in a Cloud of Critique. Ephemera, 8: 420-432. [ Link ]
  • McKelvey, B., B. B. Lichtenstein, & P. Andriani. (2009). When Systems and Ecosystems Collide: Is There a Law of Requisite Fractality Imposing on Firms? In M. J. Lopez Moreno (ed.). Chaos and Complexity in Organizations and Society, Madrid, Spain: UNESA.
  • Wycisk, C., B. McKelvey, & M. Hulsmann. (2008). 'Smart Parts'; Logistics Systems as Complex Adaptive Systems; How to Best Manage the Scalability & Dynamics of Interactive Learning Chips. Int. J. Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 38: 108-125.
  • Han, M., & B. McKelvey. (2008). Toward a Social Capital Theory of Technology-based New Ventures as Complex Adaptive Systems. International Journal of Accounting and Information Management, 16: 36-61.
  • Andriani, P., and McKelvey, B. (2008). Complessita, eventi estreme e leggi di potenza nel management e nelle organizzazioni [Complexity, Extreme Events and Power Laws in the Management of Organizations.]. Quaderni di Management, 34: 63-87.
  • Uhl-Bien, M., R. Marion, & B. McKelvey. (2007). Complex Leadership: Shifting to the Knowledge Era. Leadership Quarterly, 18: 298-318.
  • McKelvey, B., & B. B. Lichtenstein. (2007). Leadership in Four Stages of Emergence. In J. K. Hazy, J. Goldstein & B. B. Lichtenstein (eds.). Complex Systems Leadership Theory: New Perspectives from Complexity Science on Social and Organizational Effectiveness, Boston, MA: ISCE Publishing Company, pp. 93-107.
  • McKelvey, B., & B. B. Lichtenstein. (2007). Leadership in Four Stages of Emergence. In J. K. Hazy, J. Goldstein & B. B. Lichtenstein (eds.). Complex Systems Leadership Theory: New Perspectives from Complexity Science on Social and Organizational Effectiveness, Boston, MA: ISCE Publishing Company, pp. 93-107.
  • Panzer, C., J. K. Hazy, B. McKelvey & D. R. Schwandt. (2007). The Paradox of Complex Organizations: Leadership as Multiplexed Influence. In J. K. Hazy, J. Goldstein & B. B. Lichtenstein (eds.). Complex Systems Leadership Theory.... Mansfield, MA: ISCE Publishing Company, pp. 305-325.
  • Boisot, M., & B. McKelvey. (2007). Extreme Events, Power Laws, and Adaptation: Towards an Econophysics of Organization. Best Paper Proceedings, Academy of Management Conference,
  • Andriani, P., & B. McKelvey. (2007). Beyond Gaussian Averages: Redirecting Organization Science Toward Extreme Events and Power Laws. Journal of International Business Studies, 38: 1212-1230.
  • Maguire, S., B. McKelvey, L. Mirabeau, & N. Oztas. (2006). Organizational Complexity Science. In S. Clegg, C. Hardy, W. Nord, & T. Lawrence (eds.). Handbook of Organizational Studies (2nd ed.), 165-214.
  • Benbya, H., & B. McKelvey. (2006). Using Coevolutionary and Complexity Theories to Improve IS Alignment: A Multi-level Approach. Journal of Information Technology, 21: 284-298.
  • McKelvey, B. (2006). Comment on Van De Ven and Johnson's 'Engaged Scholarship': Nice Try, But .... Academy of Management Review, 31: 822-829.
  • Baum, J. A. C., and McKelvey, B. (2006). Analysis of Extremes in Management Studies. In D. J. Ketchen & D. D. Bergh (eds.). Research Methodology in Strategy and Management. Vol. 3, Oxford, UK: Elsevier, pp. 123-197.
  • Boisot, M., and McKelvey, B. (2006). Speeding Up Strategic Foresight in a Dangerous, Complex World: A Complexity Approach. In G. Suder (ed.). Corporate Strategies Under International Terrorism and Adversity, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, pp. 20-37.
  • Boisot, M., and McKelvey, B. (2006). A Socio/Computational Method for Staying Ahead of Terrorist and Other Adversities. In G. Suder (ed.). Corporate Strategies Under International Terrorism and Adversity, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, pp. 38-55.
  • Maguire, S., B. McKelvey, L. Mirabeau & N. Oztas. (2006). Complexity Science and Organization Studies. In S. Clegg, C. Hardy, & T. Lawrence (eds.). Handbook of Organizational Studies (2nd ed.), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage: pp. 165-214.
  • Thomas, C., R. Kaminska-Labbe, & B. McKelvey. (2006). Managing the MNC and Exploitation/Exploration Dilemma: From Static Balance to Dynamic Oscillation. Advances in Strategic Management, 22: 213-247.
  • Madsen, T., & B. McKelvey. (2005). Evolutionary Components of Dynamic Capabilities: Performance Effects of Intrafirm Selection Processes. Research in Competence-Based Management, 2: 3-38.
  • McKelvey, B. & P. Andriani. (2005). Why Gaussian Statistics are Mostly Wrong for Strategic Organization. Strategic Organization, 3: 219-228.
  • Yuan, Y. & McKelvey, B. (2004). Situated Learning Theory: Adding Rate and Complexity Effects via Kauffman's NK Model. (Y. Yuan, 1st author). Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, 8: 65-101.
  • McKelvey, B. (2004). Toward a 0th Law of Thermodynamics: Order-Creation Complexity Dynamics from Physics & Biology to Bioeconomics. Journal of Bioeconomics, 6: 1-31.
  • McKelvey, B. (2004). Complexity Science as Order-Creation Science: New Theory; New Method. Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 6(4): 2-27.
  • McKelvey, B. (2004). 'Simple Rules' for Improving Corporate IQ: Basic Lessons from Complexity Science. In P. Andriani and G. Passiante (eds.). Complexity Theory and the Management of Networks. London: Imperial College Press, 39-52.
  • McKelvey, B. (2004). Toward a Complexity Science of Entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 19: 313-341.
  • William McKelvey. (2003). Postmodernism vs. Truth in Management Theory. In E. Locke (ed.) Post Modernism and Management: Pros, Cons and the Alternative. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Amsterdam, NL: Elsevier Science, 21: 113-168.
  • McKelvey, B. (2003). Emergent Order in Firms: Complexity Science vs. the Entanglement Trap. In E. Mitleton-Kelly (ed.). Complex Systems and Evolutionary Perspectives on Organizations, Amsterdam, NL: Elsevier Science, pp. 99-125.
  • McKelvey, B. (2003). From Fields to Science. In R. Westwood & S. Clegg (eds.). Debating Organization: Point-Counterpoint in Organization Studies, Oxford, UK: Blackwell, pp. 47-73.