The way we want to make sense of the world around us has often to do with causality. The question we ask is what caused “it” to happen? The mainstream approach is that an arrow, or arrows, can be drawn. There is a variable, the “it”, that happened, that is now to be explained. In scientific study this variable is regarded as dependent. An independent variable, or variables, that cause it are then sought. Causality means that X causes Y. If there is more X there will also be more Y. This is the if-then model of management. In organizations, a familiar explanation for success is that a particular manager or a particular culture caused it.
But there is something significant happening today. Scholars are increasingly pointing out to the fact that this view of the relationship between cause and effect is much too simplistic and leads to a very limited and even faulty understanding of what is really going on.