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1. SYSTEM A set of things or parts forming a whole directed to meeting a particular purpose. Ernest Madara (2008) says, “A system is a composition of several components working together to accomplish a set number of objectives.” Systems operate through differentiation and coordination among its components. A system can be biological, physical or social. Examples: ecosystem, computer system, solar system, and a business or organization, etc. Systems exist at all levels: Persons; families; organisatins; communities; societies; cultures; etc. Holon* Whole part relation Each social entity whether complex or simple is a holon (Greek = to express the idea that each entity is simultaneously a part and a whole). A social unit is made up of parts to which it is the whole (suprasystem) and at the same time is part of some larger whole (component). Thus any system is by definition both part and whole. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts because the whole includes elements, which cannot be broken down and applied to individual members. An example is the properties of these letters which when considered together can give rise to meaning which does not exist in the letters by themselves. Systems notions can be used to look at people and their interactions. A human system is a set of people who communicate, and who have goals or directions. A system can be said to consist of four things. a. Objects – the parts, elements, or variables within the system. These may be physical or abstract or both, depending on the nature of the system. b. Attributes – the qualities or properties of the system and its objects. c. Internal relationships among its objects. d. Environment - systems exist in an environment. A system, therefore, is a set of things that affect one another within an environment and form a larger pattern that is different from any of the parts. Characteristics of a system a) organization: there is an orderly way in which things work and operate b) goal directedness: there are a number of goals or objectives to be accomplished c) Integration: a way in which things are tied together d) interaction: a way in which the components interact e) interdependence: a way in which the various components depend on each other and others like evolving/ adaptability/hierarchy/chain of influence (supra-systems and subsystems), etc. Elements of a system a) Input –the element that initiates an activity e.g. the data entry through the devices such as keyboard, mouse and scanners etc. b) Throughput (Process) – this element transforms or manipulates the input into results (form the central processing unit within a computer system) c) Output- the ultimate result or product after processing e.g. information for decision making + d) Feedback – This element measures performance by comparing the inputs and output. Negative feedback necessitates the need for action to reverse the performance that is unsatisfactory. Positive feedback enhances performance. e) Environment- this is the surroundings of a given system e.g. the end-user f) Control – This element synchronizes the various activities within the given system e.g. the control unit within the CPU

2| System Approach to Management. rbtdhakal@yahoo.com 1 March 2010

g) Boundary – this element determines the limitations of what defines what is within and without the systems e.g. the human computer interface determines the interaction between the end-user and the computer. Types of systems a) Open vs. closed systems – An open system is one that receives input from the environment and/or releases output to the environment. e.g. an end-user with computer. A closed system is one where interactions occur only among the system components and not with the environment. It does not take in information and therefore is likely to atrophy, that is to vanish. Open systems can tend toward higher levels of organization (negative entropy), while closed systems can only maintain or decrease in organization. Open systems possess a stronger probability for survival due to this adaptability. Conversely, a closed system resisting the incorporation of new ideas can be deemed unnecessary to its parent environment and risks atrophy. Ecological systems are open systems with respect to most elements and processes. They receive energy and nutrient inputs from their physical environment and, at the same time, cycle nutrients back out of the system. b) Adaptive system (self organizing system or cybernetic system) – this is a system that responds to external stimuli from the environment e.g. a plant or human- being c) Physical vs. abstract systems- physical system is tangible and can be described using physical quantities such as location, time, distance. Non-physical systems (abstract, conceptual or logical) are intangible and can only be expressed in terms of the steps or formulae or diagrams. d) Deterministic vs. probabilistic systems- the first is a system in which we can predict the results with certainty e.g. a computer system. A Probabilistic system works on probability i.e. the results remain uncertain e.g. weather system e) Natural vs. man-made system f) Mechanistic vs. organistic systems – Mechanistic system has a rigid structure and is designed on the basis of standardized rules and regulations. It does not flex itself to changes imposed by the environment. Organistic systems respond or are influenced by environment and are constantly redefining its objectives according to the prevailing circumstances g) Information system- this is a system that is made up of people, using equipment following laid out procedures (processes) to gather data, manipulate and disseminate information in organizations. h) Management information system- this is an information system that provides relevant information to the different levels of management to facilitate in the planning, monitoring, controlling coordination and communication and decision-making. i) Systems can be either controlled (cybernetic) or uncontrolled. In controlled systems information is sensed, and changes are effected in response to the information. An organization as a system An organization is an open system that brings together people to undertake activities for achieving an objective and it can be profit-oriented (business) or charity-oriented e.g. local authority. These organizations are made up of people in different departments that are governed by known policies and procedures that have been developed overtime. An organization takes in raw materials, energy and labor and through its production systems transforms or adds value to these to produce goods or services. It is incumbent upon the management to control the various operations by gathering feedback from customers in order to remain relevant and where necessary it may have to enhance performance or take corrective action especially if the results are below expectations.


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i. ii. iii. iv.

Each and every department and the entire organization have a boundary of activities they can engage in and each department has the boundary of functions that it performs. A change in the environment can have a profound impact on an open system. Systemic Thinking:  Using the mind to recognize pattern, conceive unity, and form some coherent wholeness – to seek to complete the picture.  Comprehension of the part/whole nature of life is the central tenet of systemic thinking.  System thinking focuses on causes, rather than events around organizations in solving problems effectively According to Banathy (1987), there are four subsystems in any educational enterprise: The learning experience subsystem: the cognitive information processing of the learner The instructional subsystem: the production of the environment or opportunities for learners to learn by the instructional designers and teachers The administrative subsystem: decision making of resource allocation by the administrators based on the instructional needs and governance input The governance subsystem: the production of policies which provide directions and resources for the educational enterprise in order to meet their needs by "owners" 2. SYSTEMS THEORY Systems theory involves the basic idea that objects in the world are interrelated to one another. System theory provides a framework by which groups of elements and their properties may be studied jointly in order to understand outcomes. The fundamental systems-interactive paradigm of organizational analysis features the continual stages of input, throughput (processing), and output. Conceptual Model

Simple System Model. Source: Littlejohn (1999) Retrieved on 17 Feb. from: http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/w/x/wxh139/System_Talk.htm Ideas of systems view The systems view was based on several fundamental ideas. First, all phenomena can be viewed as a web of relationships among elements. Second, all systems, whether electrical, biological, or social, have common patterns, behaviors, and properties that can be understood and used to develop greater insight into the behavior of complex phenomena. Systems theory comes from the general systems theory proposed by Hungarian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy. The systems view investigates the components of the phenomena, the interaction between the components, and the relation of components to their larger environment. The systems approach gives primacy to the interrelationships, not to the elements of the system. It is from these dynamic interrelationships that new properties of the system come forth. Organizations are complex social systems. Reducing the parts from the whole reduces the overall effectiveness of organizations. The Systems Approach Components of the organizational concepts (referred to as "systems approach") have been used to manage armies and governments for centuries. However, it was not until the Industrial Revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries that formal recognition of the "systems" approach to management,

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philosophy, and science emerged (Whitehead 1925, von Bertalanffy 1968). Four major concepts underlie the systems approach: • Specialization: A system is divided into smaller components allowing more specialized concentration on each component. • Grouping: To avoid generating greater complexity with increasing specialization, it becomes necessary to group related disciplines or sub-disciplines. • Coordination: As the components and subcomponents of a system are grouped, it is necessary to coordinate the interactions among groups. • Emergent properties: Dividing a system into subsystems (groups of component parts within the system), requires recognizing and understanding the "emergent properties" of a system; that is, recognizing why the system as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, two forest stands may contain the same tree species, but the spatial arrangement and size structure of the individual trees will create different habitats for wildlife species. In this case, an emergent property of each stand is the wildlife habitat. 3. SYSTEMS APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT It is a concept which views a company as an interconnected purposive system that consists of several business sections. It studies a firm in its totality so that the men and material resources of the firm can be organized to realize the firm's overall objectives efficiently. Flow, Process, and Response in Business Systems The collaborative working of input and output factors is known as the flow in a system. The processes in a system consist of several subsystems that are interconnected to each other by procedures. The response or feedback in a system focuses on the information and data which is utilized for executing certain operations. The information is the know-how that is fed in men and machines. These inputs aid in correcting the errors found in the processes. - Rampur (2009) The systems approach to management is based on general system theory - the theory that says that to understand fully the operation of an entity, the entity must be viewed as a system. This requires understanding the interdependence of its parts. It implies that every manager should be much more precise about decision-making and information flow. The management system is composed of a number of parts that function interdependently to achieve a purpose. It is an open system. It interacts with its business environment which includes customers, suppliers, competitors, and government. This approach is now becoming essential because of the growth of complexity of firms and the increasing potential of computers. 7-S Model: The 7-S model is a framework for analyzing organizations and their effectiveness. It looks at the seven key elements that make the organizations successful, or not: strategy; structure; systems; style; skills; staff; and shared values. to improve your organization, you have to pay attention to all of the seven elements at the same time. The System approach views the organization as a unified, purposeful system composed of interrelated parts. This way the manager can look at the organization as a whole or part of the larger outside environment. Activity of any part affects all other parts of the organization. 4. GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY - According to GST, nothing can be understood in isolation but must be seen as part of a system. It includes the narrower field of social systems, is a cross-disciplinary body of scientific thought that developed during the twentieth century. - It is a framework for perceiving, analysing, and acting in complex social situation, though well known and highly regarded, the use of this approach remains limited. - General systems theory can be defined as: elements, which are in exchange, and which are bounded constitute a "system", which functions or operates within a field or an environment. - System change may be natural, planned or managed. Management can be said to be an attempt to ensure that a system or element fits in with a super-system in a way that works appropriately to accomplish some end or goal.

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 ◦ ◦ 

Background GST was originally proposed by Hungarian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy in 1928. He proposed that 'a system is characterized by the interactions of its components and the nonlinearity of those interactions.' In 1980, cosmologist Stephen Hawking then expanded systems thinking to the global platform by introducing the 'Chaos Theory' that claims the 'interconnectedness of all things'--- (i.e. the beating of a butterfly’s wings in Asia creates a breeze in America). - Walonick(1993) 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. Von 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. In 1951, von Bertalanffy extended systems theory to include biological systems and three years later, it was popularized by Lotfi Zadeh, an electrical engineer at Columbia University. (McNeill and Freiberger, p.22) Humanistic features of GST The Bertalanffian GST is ethical and ecological because it aims at increasing the awareness in every human of the need of being functionally interconnected with each other, with his or her community, with the whole humanity, with the immediate terrestrial surroundings and with the biosphere. It also implies that everybody should treat life with reverence, and also tend to treat each other with respect. SOCIAL SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVES Social systems perspective is a philosophical viewpoint on the relationship of persons with their social environment. A social system is composed of persons or groups of persons who interact and mutually influence each other’s behavior. A social system is a bounded set of interrelated activities that together constitute a single entity. Systems perspective provides the best theoretical basis for the study of human communication. The social systems approach The social systems approach encompasses both holistic (group/ top-down) and atomistic (individual/bottom-up) views at once. The holistic view implies “downward” causality, while the atomistic view implies “upward” causality. Holistic Viewpoint: The whole determines the actions of its parts. People are determined by society. Atomistic Viewpoint: - The whole is the sum of its parts - Persons determine the society. 5. SOCIAL SYSTEM THOERY • A social system is a set of inter-related and inter-dependent components • People, Families, Groups, Organizations, Communities, etc… are all OPEN SYSTEMS • System BOUNDARIES separate one system from the next– and tension occurs at the boundary • Social systems are characterized by COMPLEXITY, meaning that the possibilities of their structures and capacities to change are immeasurable Emphasis is placed on the “root causes” of social problems where social justice is the ultimate goal Social System Theory is “holonistic” requiring: • Specification of the focal system

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• Specification of the units or components that constitute that holon • Specification of the significant environmental systems • Specification of one’s own position relative to the focal system. [Social Systems Theory: Human Behavior and the Social Environment www.csub.edu/~rmejia3/Social%20Systems%20Theory.ppt] Process Factors affecting social systems A variety of internal processes also affect social systems. A change in one part of the system will impact changes in other parts of system. Two internal processes are worth mentioning here: ‘morphostasis’ refers to those processes that help the system maintain itself, whereas ‘morphogenesis’ refers to those processes that help the system change, grow, more elaborate. (Ritzer 2000,p.319) Change in social systems Changes in systems may come about in a variety of ways : by accessing and influencing the elite decision-makers. Change can also come about through conflict and setting new goals, directions, and values. Changes occur as individuals or groups move away from center or towards the center as well, that is, mainstream and deviant locations in a system are possible. Chaos theory For a system to function as a system, rather than a collection of parts, it must have ways of selforganizing and even directing behavior. ... A wild ecosystem is chaos driven. An organism or organization is purpose driven. ... Chaos theory concerns the analysis of unpredictable systems that are extremely sensitive to initial conditions. One important example of a chaotic system is climate. A tiny inaccuracy in a single measurement of a chaotic system—such as a temperature variation of a fraction of a degree—can produce large errors in solutions to the model’s equations and predictions. Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008. In a 1980 lecture, cosmologist Stephen Hawking pointed out that we already know the physical laws that govern our everyday experience. Chaos theory recognizes that systems are sensitive to initial conditions, so that seemingly small changes can produce large changes in the system. One of the most important discoveries from chaos theory is that a relatively small, but well-timed or wellplaced jolt to a system can throw the entire system into a state of chaos. Study of systems 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. Evaluation of subsystems 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. Equilibrium When all forces in a system are balanced to the point where no change is occurring, the system is said to be in a state of static equilibrium. Dynamic (steady state) equilibrium exists when the system components are in a state of change, but at least one variable stays within a specified range. Homeostasis is the condition of dynamic equilibrium between at least two system variables. Kuhn (1974) states that all systems tend toward equilibrium, and that a prerequisite for the continuance of a system is its ability to maintain a steady state. (From http://meanie.iguw.tuwien.ac.at/bertalanffy/pages/bertalanffy1.php) References http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Systems_Theory/Open/Closed_System_Structure 19 Feb. 2010

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory 19 Feb. 2010 http://meanie.iguw.tuwien.ac.at/bertalanffy/pages/bertalanffy1.php 18 Feb 2010 Jenkins, G. M. & P. V. Youle. (1968). A Systems Approach to Management. Vol. 19, (Apr., 1968), pp. 5-21. < http://www.jstor.org/stable/3007468>16 Feb 2010 Madara, Ernest . (Feb 12, 2008). System Theory and Its Relevance to Organisations. <http://www.articlesbase.com/organizational-articles/system-theory-and-its-relevance-toorganisations-331178.html> 19 Feb. 2010 Marshall, Gordon(1998). "Systems theory." A Dictionary of Sociology. <http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O88-systemstheory.html> 19 Feb 2010 Panthi, Rakesh.(2008). Climate Change and Human Health. Nepalese Youth Summit on Climate Change. CD. Rampur, Stephen. (2009). Introduction to system approach to management. <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/system-approach-to-management.html> 17 Feb 2010 Ritzer, George. (2000). Sociological theory (5th ed.). Singapore: McGraw-Hill. Social Systems Theory: Human Behavior and the Social Environment. www.csub.edu/~rmejia3/Social%20Systems%20Theory.ppt" 16 Feb 2010 System Theory. <http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/w/x/wxh139/System_Talk.htm>17 Feb 2010 The social systems approach. <http://ausefulrecord.wordpress.com/2006/05/15/the-socialsystems-approach/>19 Feb 2010 Theories, Values and Perspectives of Macro Social Work. <http://homepages.wmich.edu/~macdonal/SW%206680.05/social%20systems%5D.ppt>21 Feb 2010 Walonick, David S. 1993. General System Theory. <http://www.survey-softwaresolutions.com/walonick/systems-theory.htm> 17 Feb 2010.


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