Complex adaptive systems is a general term referring to a meta-theory, a broad set of assumptions, constructs, theories, models, and methodologies which is a subset of systems theory. A complex adaptive system is a system that (a) behaves in complex ways because of the multitude of interactions between components of the system, including causality that is nonlinear and multi-directional, and (b) through such interactions, is adaptive to environment changes in order to maintain, satisfice, or optimize particular needs or desires. The key concepts that underlie it are agents, schemata, fitness functions, resources, agent interactions, and agent tags. Common assumptions include bounded rationality, satisficing in decision making, nonlinearity, dynamism, and emergence. In supply chain research and practice, complex adaptive system models can be applied at the individual, team, or organization level, and often focus on the process of adaptation, consisting of fluctuation, positive feedback, stabilization, and recombination.
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