Realising Systems Thinking: Knowledge and Action in Management Science
1.1 Introduction Systems thinking and the systems movement have been enormously productive and innovative since they emerged through developments in biology and information 1 technology in the 1930s. To highlight a few of the major contributions: Von Bertalanffy’s (1971) first conscious articulation of general systems theory. Cybernetics as developed by Weiner (Weiner 1948), Ashby (1956), Bateson (1973) and others, and then applied to management by Stafford Beer (1966). The living systems approach to biology developed by Miller (1978). C West Churchman’s (1968; 1971) ideas on dialectical systems further developed by Ulrich (1994). Ackoff and Emery’s (1972) theory of purposeful systems. Hard systems engineering (Hall 1962). Checkland’s (1981; 1990) reorientation of the discipline with the development of soft systems. Maturana and Varela’s (1980; 1987) enormously influential theories of autopoiesis and cognition. Social systems theory developed, for instance, by Buckley (1967), Luhmann (1995), Habermas (1984; 1987) and Giddens (1984). Jackson (2000), Flood (1991), Midgley (2000) and Mingers’ (1997) investigations of critical systems thinking and most recently multimethodology. Developments in chaos and complexity theory particularly at Santa Fe (Kaufmann 1995). 1 I do of course recognise that systemic thinking has occurred throughout human history.
The main market for this book is the academic systems community worldwideIts interdisciplinary coverage will also make it relevant to a wide range of scholars in other disciplines such as operations research, information systems, sociology and philosophyUseful as a companion text for courses on systems thinking in a variety of disciplines