The problematic thing about emergence, then, is that it is unpredictable and may lead to both the unexpected and the unwanted: it is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It is a phenomenon which will occur when people come together to try and achieve things, whether one has a ‘loose structure’ or a ‘tight structure’ for doing so. Managers can quite clearly have an impact on the way people interact, but can have no control over what does and does not emerge: what does not emerge formally, may well emerge informally in different ways.
One of the central challenges of a radical interpretation of the concept of emergence, then, is that it fundamentally undermines the idea of the controlling manager who can choose how much emergence takes place, somehow harnessing complexity for the good of the organisation. Those turning to the complexity sciences looking for certainty are likely to find only uncertainty. This is profoundly identity-threatening and unsettling.