Department of Management


Date of this Version



Academy of Management Review 2012. Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 689-708.! 0.5465/amr.2010.0424


Published by Academy of Management. Used by permission.


Our model of emergent organizational capacity for compassion proposes that organizations can develop the capacity for compassion without formal direction. Relying on a framework from complexity science, we describe how the system conditions of agent diversity, interdependent roles, and social interactions enhance the likelihood of self-organizing around an individual response to a pain trigger. When agents then modify their roles to incorporate compassionate responding, their interactions amplify responses, changing the system, and a new order emerges: organizational capacity for compassion. In this new order the organization's structure, culture, routines, and scanning mechanisms incorporate compassionate responding and can influence future responses to pain triggers.