Organizations are complex adaptive (social) systems that operate more like a complex ecosystem and less like a precision-engineered machine – they are open, living systems. The choice of pathology to describe organizational aberrations follows this notion of organizations being organic not metallic. Kotter suggests, “all organizations import, convert, and export a variety of types of information and matter/energy”(p.10) in order to survive. The survival is guaranteed by making appropriate decisions about resource utilization and maintaining equilibrium with the external environment.
Classically defined, pathology is “the scientific study of the nature of disease, its causes, processes, development, and consequences”. The medical focus on disease states must be reconfigured into an organizational context to be relevant and applicable. Miller has provided the appropriate context through his seminal work on living systems. Miller defines a pathological condition exists when “one or more variables remain for a significant period beyond their ranges of stability, or in which the costs of adjustment processes required to keep them within their ranges of stability are significantly increased” ( p. 81) Although Miller is defining pathological conditions for living systems, the relevance of variable instability is germane to organizational dynamics. Miller defines eight pathological condition that impact living systems which invariably resolve themselves into matter-energy and information aberrations.
Miller’s definition of a pathological condition is based upon ranges of stability which implies there are gradations to accommodate the adjustment process to restore the organizations to a stable state. The notion of range is consistent with the healthy organization as the archetypical optimum versus dysfunction and decline of the sick organization. The healthy organization is envisioned as a concourse of economic, psychological, and sociological factors that support normative values.
 Kotter, J.P. (1978). Organizational dynamics: Diagnosis and intervention. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
 Miller, J. G. (1978). Living systems. NY: McGraw-Hill.