September 1, 1995
Whether we are talking about steering a wheelbarrow over rugged terrain or plotting the course of international relations, human performance systems involve change. Sometimes changes are subtle or evolutionary, sometimes they are catastrophic or revolutionary, and sometimes the changes are from periods of relative calm to periods of vibrant oscillations to periods of chaos. As a general rule, more complex systems are likely to produce more complex forms of change.
Although social scientists have long acknowledged that change occurs and have considered ways to effect desirable change, the dynamical processes of change have been poorly understood in the past. Chaos, Catastrophe, and Human Affairs combines recent advances in mathematics and experimental design with the best available social science theories to produce a new, integrated, and compact theory of work, organizations, and social evolution. The domains of application extend from human decision-making processes to personnel selection and work motivation, work performance under conditions of stress, accident and health risk analysis, the development of social institutions and economic systems, creativity and innovation, organizational development and group dynamics, and political revolutions in war.
Stephen J. Guastello is associate professor of psychology at Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), where he teaches industrial psychology and organizational development, human factors engineering, and statistics. His research is centered around applications of chaos and catastrophe theory to work-related topics, plus psychological measurement and economics topics. Professor Guastello is also a consultant to local, national, and governmental organizations. He is now president-elect of the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences.