Lesson 2: The General Systems Theory and Organizational Behaviour

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The explanatory variables of the current problems are: a highly coupled, since the relationships outweigh the states; correspond to very dynamic phenomena; they behave atypically and are resistant to align with generalizing, obvious and simplistic policies; there are causal - not casual - since cause and effect behavior changes over time; it is difficult to extrapolate long-term. So what do we do to solve them, if the use of classical and conventional tools is not possible? You need to try other tools, concepts and theories to change behavior in a structural way, and generate events and results according to an integrated, holistic and systemic environment. The approach can cope with these situations is known as systemic.

General Systems Theory was originally proposed by biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy in 1928. Since Descartes, the "scientific method" had progressed under two related assumptions. A system could be broken down into its individual components so that each component could be analyzed as an independent entity, and the components could be added in a linear fashion to describe the totality of the system. Bertalanffy proposed that both assumptions were wrong. On the contrary, a system is characterized by the interactions of its components and the nonlinearity of those interactions.

One common element of all systems is described by Kuhn. Knowing one part of a system enables us to know something about another part. The information content of a "piece of information" is proportional to the amount of information that can be inferred from the information.

Systems can be either controlled (cybernetic) or uncontrolled. In controlled systems information is sensed, and changes are effected in response to the information. Kuhn refers to this as the detector, selector, and effectors functions of the system. The detector is concerned with the communication of information between systems. The selector is defined by the rules that the system uses to make decisions, and the effectors is the means by which transactions are made between systems. Communication and transaction are the only intersystem interactions. Communication is the exchange of information, while transaction involves the exchange of matter-energy. All organizational and social interactions involve communication and/or transaction.

Kuhn's model stresses that the role of decision is to move a system towards equilibrium. Communication and transaction provide the vehicle for a system to achieve equilibrium: "Culture is communicated, learned patterns... and society is a collectively of people having a common body and process of culture." A subculture can be defined only relative to the current focus of attention. When society is viewed as a system, culture is seen as a pattern in the system. Social analysis is the study of "communicated, learned patterns common to relatively large groups (of people)".

The study of systems can follow two general approaches. A cross-sectional approach deals with the interaction between two systems, while a developmental approach deals with the changes in a system over time.
There are three general approaches for evaluating subsystems. A holist approach is to examine the system as a complete functioning unit. A reductionist approach looks downward and examines the subsystems within the system. The functionalist approach looks upward from the system to examine the role it plays in the larger system. All three approaches recognize the existence of subsystems operating within a larger system.

Descartes and Locke both believed that words were composed of smaller building blocks. Both thought that one could strip away all terms of ambiguity and be left with the clarity of comprehension. Kuhn argues for clear definitions in science. The criteria that Kuhn uses to evaluate system terminology, is that it provides "analytic usefulness and consistency with other terms".