As competitive environments are becoming turbulent, management science is showing increasing interest in the concept of emergence. This concept is closely related to the “new science of complexity” and its agent-based approach. While this agent-based approach of complexity science is on its way of becoming a new paradigm in management science, the system dynamics approach is suffering from a lack of management attention and impact, although both are being applied to similar problems with similar outcomes. In previous research, scholars have compared system dynamics modeling and agent-based modeling. This paper steps back from the modeling aspect and looks at the requisite conditions, as identified by complexity science, that make emergent phenomena happen. Complex adaptive systems are agent-based systems capable of balancing emergent efficiency and innovation without central control. In this paper we give a comprehensive overview of mechanisms and principles of complex adaptive systems that are prerequisites of emergent phenomena. We propose a generic framework of complex adaptive systems for use in management science. This framework then serves to assess exemplary literature on applications of complexity science to firms and to discuss research implications for both agent-based and system dynamics approaches to management problems.