Revisiting the political cybernetics of organisations

Maurice Yolles
Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
Purpose – The viable systems theory of autonomous social communities is a cybernetic theory in which politics is seen as a facilitator for social coherence. A recent paper by Yolles explored this dimension, considering, how power and its process affects structure, manipulates information, and influences the way that people behave. A core conceptualization of that paper about political temperament is corrected and further developed. Design/methodology/approach – Interest in this paper lies in the social cybernetics of autonomous social communities that have a culture, normative behaviour, and where the behaviour is ultimately determined from that culture. Autonomous social communities that have a culture have a history and dynamic that can be argued to have a potential for behavioural coherence through policy formation and processes of action research. It is through this proposition that politics is engaged in the theory. Findings – This paper offers a correction and development of Yolle’s conceptual representation of the notion of political temperament as discussed by Duverger. Political temperament is a part of political culture, and is ultimately connected to the way that power is created, assigned and used. Yolles was concerned with the relationship between political temperament, political management, and processes of power distribution. However, this model was misconceived, and we shall redefine it by expressing political temperament as the relationship between political mindedness, political management, and political centripetality (or process of power distribution). Originality/value – In this paper it is argued that political temperament comes from a set of attitudes that underpin the political nature of a governing body that becomes responsible for the political management of a social community. It is seen to contribute to the formation of the political culture of autonomous social communities. Keywords Cybernetics, Systems theory, Communities Paper type Research paper

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1. Introduction Our interest here lies in the social cybernetics of autonomous social communities that have a culture, normative behaviour, and where the behaviour is ultimately determined from that culture. Autonomous social communities that have a culture have a history and dynamic that can be argued to have a potential for behavioural coherence through policy formation and processes of action research. It is through this proposition that politics is engaged in the theory. Sometimes such social communities are called social organisations or just organisations, and sometimes they are called civic or enterprise corporations. A corporation is any association of individuals in a social community or organisation created by law and having an existence apart from that of its members as well as distinct and inherent powers and liabilities. However, not all social communities are formal corporations and therefore recognised by law. This paper offers a correction and development of Yolles’s (2003) conceptual representation of the notion of political temperament as discussed by Duverger (1972). Political temperament is a part of political culture, and is ultimately connected

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to the way that power is created, assigned and used. Yolles (2003) was concerned with the relationship between political temperament, political management, and processes of power distribution. However, this model was misconceived, and we shall redefine it by expressing political temperament as the relationship between political mindedness, political management, and political centripetality (or processes of power distribution). We shall follow Yolles (2003) by exploring political temperament through the frame of reference defined by social viable systems theory (SVST), a cybernetic theory whose ontology derives from Schwarz (1997). For this, Yolles (2001) formulated a theory of the social community, having an ontological form of three domains, defined as: . a phenomenological[1] or behavioural domain that houses structured operational systems in interaction; . a virtual or organising domain housing virtual systems that generate and maintain images that may relate to intended or expected phenomenal reality; . an existential or cognitive domain that houses our worldviews/paradigms, and where patterns of knowledge are maintained that enable us to gain meaning for the phenomena and behaviours that are perceived around us; this domain also normally harbours the metasystem as defined by Beer (1979) as part of the viable social community. Interestingly, this construction has relevance to the nature of autopoiesis, a concept developed by Maturana and Varela (1979). It is essentially and within the context of this paper, the capacity of an autonomous system to manifest phenomenally an autonomous social community’s virtual images through the self-production of its networks of power that become part of its social structure. The work of Habermas has also been important to management systems. For instance Midgley (2000) advocates the development of critical systems thinking through Habermas’s (1987) three world’s model. Yolles and Guo (2003), however, prefer to develop a cybernetic three domains model that is richer in at least the sense that it has a capacity for recursion. It also incorporates Habermas’s theory of knowledge constitutive interests (that also underpins the three worlds model), and which has today become a significant feature of critical theory (MacIsaac, 1996). A proposition of SVST is that all coherent autonomous social communities can be modelled in terms of the three domains each of which has a validity claim to reality, each of which are ontologically coupled in a way consistent with the notions of Eric Schwarz (Schwarz, 1997; Yolles, 1999a). An epistemological representation of this model is offered in Figure 1, which we shall describe briefly. Each domain has knowledge associated with it, this notion deriving from the work of Marshall (1995). The existential domain is the place of worldview/paradigms where decision processes are implemented, and it houses the metasystem. It is connected with the virtual domain housing virtual systems in which virtual organised images are created. These images are not only reflected phenomenally, but are used to interpret the phenomena perceived to occur. The phenomenal domain is the place of the system(s) or social actor(s) who may be in interaction with other social actors or an environment. When a plurality of interactive actors enters into mutual communication in the phenomenal domain, they participate in the process of knowledge migration (Yolles, 2000d). In a positivist

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Figure 1. Influence diagram exploring the relationship between the phenomenal, virtual and existential domains

objectivist epistemology this means that knowledge can be transferred between the plural actors, but in constructivist subjectivist epistemology knowledge migration takes on another meaning, and we shall explore this in due course. Actors in the behavioural domain are social communities that have structure and, if sufficiently complex, infrastructure to service structure. They are susceptible to the impact of changing phenomena like regulation or new technology that attenuates structure. To understand how this works, follow the arrows that indicate effects in Figure 1 from the attenuation back to the culture. The attenuation caused by the phenomena will normally result in some change in (operational) behaviour. Behaviour is both facilitated and constrained by the structure itself, as illustrated by a social community’s bounding rules and operational incentives. Small levels of attenuation can simply influence the nature of the facilitation or the constraint; thus, a new budget for computer software and staff training creates a facilitating influence. However, when the changes are significant, the attenuation is great, and the attrition on the structure can become severe unless changes are made (e.g. a new department of computing). Following through the arrows from left to right in Figure 1, attrition on the structure will have to be responded to within the polity/order being sought that is directly connected to the decisions about interventional behaviour. These attritions will likely have an affect on the virtual images of the social community that will in turn impact in some way on the decisions and eventually the paradigm(s)/worldview(s) and dominant culture. All of these changes have an impact on our knowledge[2]. During the generation of new knowledge, the arrows from the right to the left can be followed to eventually result in new behaviour that will respond to newly apprehended phenomena. We said that the ontological relationship between the three domains is consistent with that of Schwarz’s model, though some its concepts have been developed further. The three domains maintain both a first order and a second order ontological couple[3] as illustrated in Figure 2. Higher orders of ontological couple may also exist, normally through recursion. The first order couple connects the virtual and phenomenal domain, linked through an ontological migration[4], an example of which is autopoiesis[5].

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Another name for autopoiesis is self-production (Mingers, 1995), which following Schwarz can also be expressed in terms of the relationship between self-organisation (a restructuring process of the phenomenal domain), and self-regulation (a cybernetic process of the virtual domain). A second order ontological couple provides for ontological migration between the first order couple and the existential domain, and an example of this is autogenesis. This is, according to Schwarz (1997), self-creation that can ultimately be expressed as a relationship between self-reference and self-organisation, and represents the self-production of the rules of production through, we shall say, the formation of a network of principles. It represents the state of full autonomy of a system in as far as it defines being. It may be the case that these ontological migrations cannot be expressed as autopoiesis and autogenesis, and in this case the autonomous nature of the system will have to be questioned. For the autonomous coherent social community, the production of networks of “power in use” are capable of guiding behaviour, and power is seen as a manifestation of ideology and ethics and purposeful polity that gives rise to political process that are normally underpinned by principles. These, we propose, derive from political culture that is itself underpinned by political temperament – the nature of which we shall explore later. Exploring Figure 2 a little, we argue that political temperament comes from a set of attitudes that underpin the political nature of a governing body that becomes responsible for the political management of a social community, and we shall argue that it is directly responsible for the network of political principles that guides autopoiesis. The notion of political temperament will be important to this paper, since it is seen to contribute to the formation of the political culture of autonomous social communities. It is the political culture that in due course affects the way that power can be used to facilitate and constrain social behaviour. Political autogenesis has an impact on political autopoiesis, and through feedback enables the social community to evolve through change in its political culture. The purpose of this paper, then, is to develop the theory that enables us to discuss the political temperament that reflects this process, and therefore impacts on the ontological viable system model of Figure 2.

Figure 2. Second order ontological migrations expressed in terms of political temperament that defines culture and results in principles that guide political processes first order ontological migrations

Returning to the three domains model, each domain has properties illustrated by Yolles (2003), and it will be useful to represent this here again as Table I. This is a development from Yolles (2000, a, b, c), and includes some of Vicker’s (1965) ideas on the notion of the appreciative system. Rows have cognitive properties, and columns have sociality properties (Yolles, 2000b; Yolles and Guo, 2003). The term cognitive relates to the generic attributes of a social community associated with mind and psyche, and by association through individual interactive involvement, the social community. The cognitive properties represent a set of qualitative propositions that has developed after the work of Habermas (1987) whose concern lays in cognitive interest, and that we have extended by adding the additional rows. Cognitive influences relate to the knowledge and paradigm that a social community support, that is itself a function of culture. In particular, our interest will be directed to political culture that relates to processes of political socialisation involving the creation of values, attitudes and beliefs. The term sociality has been used to refer to the social profile of the group, and has conceptual consistency with the notion of personality as it relates to the person. It was used for instance by Van Mesdag (1991) who argues for its metaphorical use. Stakeholders expect certain patterns of corporate behaviour, and in due course they will endow it with personality shaped by the stakeholders perceptions of what the corporation does or does not do. Inconsistencies in its behaviour or attitudes are likely to result in labels such as untrustworthy, devious and unreliable. Boudourides (1997) sees human sociality in terms of active, and also for us, interactive social relationships that enable the formation of new forms of collective subjectivity. Linked to this Caporael (1995) adopts the term to refer to the connection between the social construction of knowledge and group situation. Consequently, it is consistent for us to link the term sociality with the columns of Table I, and in doing so refer to a social community’s sociality properties that include kinematic, orientation, and potential/possibilities. The sociality properties of possibilities/potential represent the core interest in this paper that connects directly with Figure 2. Emancipation has been discussed at length by authors like Habermas and by Foucault in their own terms of reference. In cybernetic terms it enables the self-production of variety that can be harnessed as requisite variety[6] that connects to social community viability. Ultimately emancipation is a manifestation of ideology and ethics that may be used to self-produce networks of power that are used structurally to both constrain and facilitate behaviour. Political culture is ultimately responsible for the second order ontological migration to first order ontological couple operating between the ideology/ethics and emancipation. It manifests this responsibility by creating meanings for freedom and emancipation that enable people to understand the nature of variety and the meaning of requisite variety. While we have already indicated that, in this paper the intention is to outline some of the features of the ontological viable system model (Figure 2), discussion will also be expressed in terms of sociality possibilities/potential. 2. Politics and power Yolles (2003) discussed political processes in terms of macroscopic communities involving a large number of participants that have the potential to interact with each

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Cognitive properties Orientation (determining trajectory) Practical Critical deconstraining

Cognitive interests Phenomenal or behavioural domain

Cognitive purposes Virtual or organising domain

Cognitive Social influences Existential or Formation. Enables individuals/groups to be cognitive Domain influenced by knowledge that relate to our social environment. This has a consequence for our social structures and processes that define our social forms that are related to our intentions and behaviours.

Table 1. Organisational pattern of the social community through the viable system model
Sociality properties Possibilities/potential (relating to requisite variety) Degree of emancipation. For organisational viability, the realising of individual potential is most effective when people: (i) liberate themselves from the constraints imposed by power structures (ii) learn through precipitation in social and political processes to control their own destinies. Ideological/moral Manner of thinking. An intellectual framework through which policy makers observe and interpret reality. This has an aesthetical or politically correct ethical orientation. It provides an image of the future that enables action through politically correct strategic policy. It gives a politically correct view of stages of historical development, in respect of interaction with the external environment. Political Freedom. Influences occur from knowledge that affect our polity determined, in part, by how we think about the constraints on group and individual freedoms, and in connection with this to organise and behave. It ultimately has impact on our ideology and morality, and our degree of organisational emancipation. Belief. Influences occur from knowledge that derives from the cognitive organisation (the set of beliefs, attitudes, values) of other worldviews. It ultimately determines how we interact and influences our understanding of formative organising. Interaction. This requires that people as individuals and groups in a social system gain and develop the possibilities of an understanding of each others subjective views. It is consistent with a practical interest in mutual understanding that can address disagreements, which can be a threat to the social form of life. Rational/appreciative Formative organising. Enables missions, goals, and aims to be defined and approached through planning. It may involve logical, and/or relational abilities to organise thought and action and thus to define sets of possible systematic, systemic and behaviour possibilities. It can also involve the use of tacit standards by which experience can be ordered and valued, and may involve reflection. Cultural

Kinematics (through energetic motion)


Work. This enables people to achieve goals and generate material well-being. It involves technical ability to undertake action in the environment, and the ability to make prediction and establish control.


Intention. This is through the creation and strategic pursuit of goals and aims that may change over time, enables people through control and communications processes to redirect their futures.

other. Macroscopic political processes are mediated, while microscopic ones are unmediated or direct since they have relatively few participants with a smaller interaction potential. Mediated politics normally occurs where there are high levels of sociopolitical complexity. This is because when patterns of political interactions becomes complex as in the case of macroscopic social communities, emergent formalisations develop that make the patterns easier to represent and become more understandable. In mediated political situations, social distance arises between power holder and subordinates to that power who are subject authority or control. Social distance is, it was suggested, maintained when access to power holders is mediated by formal mechanisms. Yolles (2003) expressed an interest in autonomous social communities that have some degree of rational/appreciative ordering that overcomes a tendency towards disorder, and behind the ordering process there are purposeful self-created virtual images that promote operational structure. The ordering occurs through polity working through a constitution or set of recognised principles that lie at the foundation of the social community, and involves ideology and ethics. In exploring politics, only a brief introduction was provided in Yolles (2003), but our intention is not to elaborate on this here. Politics was defined as the total complex of relations between people living in coherent social group that enables social communities to become established in the first place. It often results in the distribution of power to role positions that result in the making of judgements, dispensing of decisions, and in general the facilitation of formal action. Legitimate action is that action sanctioned by due process within the social community. Politics was also related to the social and cultural attributes of social communities through the consideration of their political ideology. Ideology is a collection of rationalised and systemised beliefs that coalesce into an image that establishes a phenomenal potential or experience. When groups operate from a given paradigm they are often prone to particular orientations that: (1) exclude other orientations; and (2) predetermines ideology. When the groups operate in the political arena, this can be referred to as a political ideology. This can become a doctrine when it becomes a body of instruction about a specific set of beliefs that tends to explain reality, and prescribes goals for political action. Yolles (2003) illustrated the linkages between ideology and political through Table I. Here coherent actions are explained in terms of viable systems, as well as ethics that conditions resulting behaviour. It adopts local rationality and relations that operate as the basis for the virtual images we create. They incorporate information, and create polity necessary for politics. Power may be seen as a phenomenal event in that becomes associated with the behavioural process, impacting on it through the structures that arise and to which positions of power are attached. The images embed information, and manifest structural adjustment through operative management (Schwaninger, 2001). This is tied in with the strategic knowledge that enables the information to be interpreted.

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3. Developing the concept of political temperament The way that social communities direct themselves is a complex process that includes governance and the use of power. Part of this process involves the ability to deal with different attitudes to politics and their processes, and one description of this has identified attitudinal political temperament as being of interest. It is from political temperament that we can understand how governance and power creation, distribution and use develop. 3.1 Political temperament According to Duverger (1972, p. 132), the term political temperament has in the past provided a way of indicating political attitudes held by those associated with political situations. Most classifications of political temperaments were set on an authoritarian/democratic axis and some on a right/left axis. Eysenk, however, undertook an empirical factor analysis study to examine political temperament. His results indicated two factors. While the factor analysis approach does not indicate what these two factors might be, Eysenk proposed from his measuring instruments one to be “radical/conservative” (radical here meaning progressive), that Duverger argues roughly corresponds to the distinction between right/left forms of governance. The other factor was supposed by Eysenk to be a hard/soft axis, which Duverger notes permits the coexistence of a range of very different attitudes from different groups. He argues that the soft/hard dimension can be related to tender/tough-mindedness. Further, he notes that an examination of Eysenk’s measuring instrument (a set of questions to which the statistical approach of factor analysis was applied) that emerge as relating to the soft/hard dimension appear to involve moral beliefs as well as a political distinction. Having said this, the morality is vectored towards a western protestant ethic, and the resulting evaluation may therefore not be a generalisable expression for political temperament. Hardness, he notes, can be related to strong spirit with a lack of concern for traditional ethics. Tender-mindedness is “soft”, involving a religious and moral outlook that is strongly individualistic and based on the notion that a person will perform “duties” without external pressure. It is “soft” in that it includes equality, gentleness and non-violence. More generally it may be associated with sensitivity to traditional ethics, individualistic involving consultation with others, and maintaining a perception of duty (and honour) without external pressure, and therefore perhaps consistent seeing others in subjective terms. Tough-mindedness can be related to a lack of beliefs that underlie a concern for traditional ethics, and it is perhaps utilitarianism or sensate. An outcome of Eysenk’s notions moderated by those of Duverger and our considerations here is offered in Figure 3. This is slightly different from an intended development of a related model by Yolles (2003, p. 1259) that was intended as a development of this, but as we shall see the difference is significant as it initiates an alternative model. Eysenk’s study examined individuals. However, when that they congregate into political groups by creating a system of normative beliefs, the basis of a political culture is created. It is highly likely therefore that if political temperament is the property of individuals, then when they congregate into coherent political groups normative attitudes that constitute political temperament become more or less associated with the group[7]. This proposition epistemologically migrates[8] the political properties of an individual to the social community. However, arguing for a

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Figure 3. Political temperament

relationship between the individual (individualism) and the collective (collectivism) provides an additional argument to support this view, and it will be useful here to explore each of these concepts. By individualism is meant the doctrine that all social phenomena (their structure and their change) are in principle explicable only in terms of individuals – for instance their properties, goals, and beliefs. Collectivism in principle ideally relates to people coming together in a collective to act unitarily through normative processes in order to satisfy some commonly agreed and understood purpose or interest. For Viskovatoff (1999) this unitary/plural relationship can be represented as a “duality” that in sociological theory is expressed in terms of action theory and system theory. He notes that individualists try to reduce the social to the actions and mental states of individuals, while collectivists argue that there is something irreducible about the social that cannot be expressed at the level of individuals. He further notes Bourdieu and Giddens attempts to overcome this individual/social dualism. Both are post-structuralists[9], see reality is chaotic, disorganized and fragmented, and view the social world in terms of the decentered[10] subject. For Giddens (1984, p. 377) a system is the patterning of social relations across time-space, understood as reproduced practices. Human social activities are recursive, not brought into being by social actors but continually recreated by them via the means whereby they express themselves as actors. Both Giddens and Bourdieu attempt to overcome the individual/social “dualism” by saying that the social has rules or social practices. Viskovatoff (1999) notes that these must mediate between the individual and the social collective in a way that preserves their importance, rather than receding into the background as occurs in Giddens’s work. Viskovatoff appears to have neglected Piaget (1970) who talks in a related vein, saying that the individual and the collective social are engaged in an adaptive process that occurs through their social interactions. He sees that in a normal environment, the individual from birth develops

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cultural structures (that are in essence “symbolic structure”) of norms and principles from which normative conduct is prescribed. Thus, the tendency to relate the individual with the social (by arguing that they interact through cultural structures as well as phenomenally through social structure) provides a common epistemological basis, sufficient for unitary actor theories (the individual) to be migrated[11] to the plural actor[12] (the social collective). This presupposes that the individual and social are intimately connected, the social composed of individuals in interaction mediated by cultural structures. It also overcomes the duality we have discussed. By assigning concepts of the individual to the social, we are in effect saying that the social construction is a metaphor that should be interpreted in terms of the many-to-many individual-to-individual interactions that are deemed by an inquirer to form the social, coherence occurring in these interactions when they are mediated by normative cultural structures. This assumes that normative cultural structure can occur because the symbolic forms that create it can have a meaning that is to some extent shared by individuals within the social. We say shared to some extent because it can only be judged that a sharing process has occurred when individuals are able to evaluate through perceived behavioural outcomes that they have been able to pursue common cognitive purposes or interests that are assumed to be the consequence of such a sharing. Within this context it is therefore feasible to migrate generic properties of the individual (the unitary actor) to the social (the plural actor). It may be noted that the social is a virtual construct that only has ontological validity because individuals assign to themselves roles (that may occur though the agency of others who facilitate that assignation by appointment), intended to be the representative of the image(s) that generates them. Where an inquirer sees there to be synergy in the role behaviour of individuals who claim to have made that assignation, then the social may be supposed to exist phenomenally by that inquirer. This has a curious implication: for an autonomous social this can be expressed in terms of our three domains model, so that when we talk of the social having a structure and behaviour in the phenomenal domain, we are really talking about that phenomenal structure occurring as a recursion of the model within the virtual domain (since we are arguing for an image of political processes). 3.2 Power and governance Political temperament is connected to governance and power, and Yolles (2003) sketched out some ideas on how this occurs. Types of governance were considered briefly that derive from different political cultures, and these included meritocracy, autocracy/despotism, oligarchy, democracy and constructive anarchy. Since western social communities tend to develop hierarchies (rather than flat structures), a form of governance normally emerges based on authoritarian principles where an individual (e.g. the chief executive or chairman) will ultimately dictate to others. A despotic social community may have an executive committee or board of directors that as a whole dictates to the rest of the social community. This normally requires some form of decision agreement across the board membership. The discussion about the differentiation between oligarchies and various forms of democracy is potentially extensive. However, a social community may have a form of governance that varies according to the perspective of its participants. Where it can be

said that a social community is ruled by a subgroup of its membership who may or may not have been elected in at some time and in which political power has been invested, then we can refer to it as an oligarchy. However, they may consider that they are running a democracy. An example of such governance is the cooperative, where members of the community are corporate shareholders[13] who may vote in the executive periodically, but who are not normally consulted about issues nor do they have participation in decision-making. The executive may refer to its governance as being democratic since members have voting rights, but the membership might see that the voting process cannot contribute to decision-making. This is similarly the case in some law firms having partners and associates. The partners may have full participation in the policy decision-making while the associates have none. These types of governance are a development of the ancient Greek democracies that consisted of the democratic elite and token slaves or serfs. The slaves/serfs belonged to their masters in so far as they were tied to specific operations and were not able to participate in political processes. Yolles (2003) noted that the distinction between slaves and serfs was that in the former case, masters were able to make decisions about the life and death[14] of a slave, but this was not the case for serfs (Belbin, 2001). Constructive anarchism may be seen as decentralised. Unfortunately the notion of decentralised processes suggest a move away from the control of the centre, and experience with this in information systems suggests that this is likely to result in a degree of chaos (e.g. Davis and Olson, 1984). Constructive anarchism may therefore be better seen as having a distributed process, suggesting that the centre takes on a democratic mediating role for the network of local autonomies that will contribute to overall coherence. We therefore consider that constructive anarchy is best thought of as governance through distributed power by which decisions can be made locally and autonomously implemented. Distributed processes are typically network based, and provide a unique way for corporations to develop their politics and distribute power. One vision of what appears to be a form of constructive anarchy comes form Belbin (2001, p.156). He talks about status power, which seems to be a critical knowledge based concept in which people work together in microscopic social community called teams, and relate to each other from a position of equality. A person considered excellent by peers gains status and respect, and from this creates the possibility of achieving leadership, at least temporarily or for specific areas of activity. These attributes are often not recognised in hierarchies since there are no paradigmatic criteria for recognising them. While team-members see their peers in terms of status, members of the hierarchy see them in terms of rank position and its material trappings. The two perceptions provide a tension in that the team sees processes and networking, while the hierarchy sees structures. Those with position power are expected to perform well in all types of leadership situation, even where they do not have the knowledge. In more liberated hierarchies, they may obtain assistance from subordinate who are charged with particular undertakings, but the position holder maintains his or her rank in relation to that subordinate. Leadership based on status is, for Belbin (2001), consistent with democratic politics. However, adopting the notion of democracy in Table I, we see it to be more consistent with constructive anarchy in which role positions are replaced by status within networks. Governance normally involves the creation and distribution of power, enabling those who have it to act, to influence, or have social authority to maintain some form of

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ascendancy over others. It is the general capacity of a social community to control the behaviour of, or marginalize, others. As such power is often associated with some form of leadership. Where power is associated with leadership, power holders often seek to ensure the maintenance of their role position in a given social community given a continuing political culture and structure. Despite this, there is often a view for the subordinate followers of a given leader, whether or not it is an illusion, that are participating in processes that contributes to the maintenance of their own role positions. Yolles (2003) discussed techniques that enable those with power to lead others, while also noting Ward’s consideration in 2002 that leadership and power are not synonymous. When linking power with leadership we may be required to consider responsibility, which can be defined as an obligation for pre-determinable courses of action to a power to which one is accountable. This definition would be appropriate, for instance, when thinking about empowerment as the distribution of responsibility while intensifying or maintaining the centralisation of power. However, as Alvesson and Deetz indicated in 1999, responsibility within a critical theory context relates to social emancipation. This suggests another definition of responsibility that does not connect with power directly: a developed awareness in ones social interconnectedness and, thus, ones realisation of ones collective responsibility to others. Alvesson and Deetz further consider the nature of autonomy within critical theory. It is not simply relating to individual potential. It rather anticipates the possibility of developing a critical reflective social community that has an interest in emancipation. It is not only a critical perspective as Alvesson and Deetz indicated in 1999, but also a cybernetic one (Yolles, 1999a), that a critical appreciation of autonomy recognises interdependence. It is here were notions of politics and ethics (and morality) meet. Leadership operates through governance, its rationality being referred to as governmentality as described by Jackson and Carter in 1998. Governmentality controls what in a given political culture is considered to be deviance, with the expectation that the paradigm it adheres to and sets out will be assigned to by all its subordinates. Frameworks for governance maintain their own value system that supports vested interest. Foucault (1982) builds a theory around this that explains how subordinate compliance is ensured by the membership of social communities, that is, the acquiescence of subordinate members of the social community such that they are in the main morally obedient to the rules of governance in their behaviour. The need for obedience is a manifestation of autocratic governance that has associated within implicit or explicit coercion that that been rationalised and justified as being for the good of the collective whole of the social community. This results in the altruistic perception that becomes an obligation to the system of governance. 3.3 Centripetal politics Yolles (2003) also identified centripetal politics with political temperament, providing a three-dimensional representation with political mindedness and political management. Centripetal politics concerns the way in which power is distributed beyond the confines of the immediate governing body. In the current age of globalisation, society is passing through a process of intensification with increasing social interconnectedness, a process that can be referred to as complexification. This is expressed by Ionescu in 1975 as centrifugal society, or

moving towards the centre. When this occurs, for Ionescu it is accompanied by the emergence centripetal politics, of socio-economic corporate emancipation as power become distributed and is attended by political mediation. Social centrifugality occurs as a social community becomes centrally engaged with the social intensification and complexification that it recognises it is participant to. Social communities may become centrifugal as they embrace greater intensification and complexity, but their political processes emerge centripetally, enabling corporations to accumulate power and make decisions that are unrepresentative of government. In egalitarian environments this can result, for instance, in democratic processes among the power holding groups. When we talk about distributed power and coherence, we mean that the corporations must not only take over responsibility for the domain of activities, they must also perform in a way that the governing body would normally consider legitimate. Legitimate behaviour by an external body is indicated by a pattern of actions undertaken that are both facilitated and properly constrained by the governing body on behalf of the social community for which it operates. As a consequence the governing body now moves from a position of performing operations to one of monitoring (part of political mediation) to ensure that the behaviour of those who accumulate power on its behalf is legitimate. Where the corporations are mono-functional and thus dedicated to the domains of interest or purpose for which power has been allocated, and hold an ethical position that more or less converges with that of the governing body, they are often seen to operate transparently so that monitoring processes can be successful given the right approach. However, in corporations that have other interests and purposes as well as distinct ethical and ideological perspectives, the use of power may become less transparent and the monitoring process will become more complicated and less easy to perform meaningfully. Social complexification with its accompanying political centripetality was evident before the recession of the 1970s, where governments delegated their responsibilities by empowering corporations to run significant public services (a process today called privatisation). It has led to an interesting consequence. Enterprise corporations tend to be despotic social communities that pursue their own purposes and interest before public ones, the needs of which they are supposed to service when they engage in a social contract. Unlike state public service social communities, public need does not feature as a primary concept in their paradigms, having only an indirect influence. Enterprise corporations too are not immune to the instabilities and uncertainties of internationalisation and change as the centre of the industrial-technical revolution moves from the west to Pacific Rim countries. The link between empowerment and centripetal politics also occurs at this lower focus of examination. Enterprise corporations empower autonomous enterprises that are outside their political control to supply sub-products or services. This activity is normally referred to as outsourcing, a concept equivalent to privatisation. Centripetal politics operates here when the peripheral enterprises involved in outsourcing accumulate their own power and make unrepresentative decisions on behalf of their corporate partners. There is a political consequence for this process. At a national focus, democratic governments that participate in centripetal political processes through privatisation compromise their pronounced ideology. At the lower focus, the significance of corporate centripetal processes through outsourcing may not be so potentially harmful

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to the political process, most corporations having a similar genus of paradigm (i.e. the pursuit of shareholder interests rather than those of public interest that are intended to be serviced). However, it can interfere with corporate policy intentions as well as effectiveness. Let us return now to the nature of centripetal politics, which we have already indicated may be seen as an emergent[15] consequence of the complexification inherent in social centrifugality. This notion of emergence links with the idea that chaos is inherent to complex processes, and (as advocated by Cohen and Stewart in 1994), chaos is collapsed through emergence. Ionescu has not argued that centripetal politics is necessarily an emergence from social centrifugality with its attendant processes of intensification and complexification. If we can further talk of degrees of social centrigugality, then we are equivalently talking about degrees of intensification and complexification. Social centrifugality is understood to be in process is the paradigm that entails patterns of knowledge recognises it. Consequently, in the same way that complexity is a relative concept (Yolles, 1999a), it is too relative to the paradigm used to apprehend it. Given that a coherent social community ascertains social centrifugality, then according to Figure 2 it can be expressed within a social community’s normative or dominant virtual image of phenomenal reality. Centripetal politics consequently emerges as a feasible autopoietic process. Having said this, it should also be recognised that there are likely to be other paradigms and virtual images that do not facilitate the emergence of centripetal politics as a feasible outcome, but rather enable alternative emergences to develop. The possibility of engaging centripetal politics must derive from permissible attitudes in a given political culture. Such attitudes may appear in a variety of circumstances and political corporate regimes, even if they have only recently been recognised in the modern world. Thus, for instance, Reilly (2001) adopts the term in connection with the attempts to abate ethic conflicts that embrace both social complexity and intensification. 4. Revisiting political temperament In Figure 3 we followed Duverger and defined political temperament as a space determined by a relationship between mindedness (soft/hard or tender/tough) and governance (left/right). However, the discussions that followed enable us to propose an alternative space for political temperament. This consists of three dimensions represented in Figure 4: (1) Governance or political management. In this we move more closely to the traditional notion of democracy/authoritarianism commented on by Duverger, rather than Eysenk’s left/right, and adopt the terms participatory/authoritarianism: participatory means establishing processes such that as many people as possible in a social community are able to participate in decision and action taking processes. In complex social communities this means neutralising objectification normally created by the mediation process, and one way of doing this is by establishing processes of political management at the most local level possible (more representative of constructive anarchy than democracy); authoritarianism is (often mediated) political management from the centre, and is locally distant normally providing little opportunity for participatory access.

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Figure 4. Space of political temperament

(2) Political mindedness. As before this defines a frame of reference that permits others to be seen as subjects (as others are subjectified) or objects (as others are objectified). It therefore engages with the Foucaultian conceptualisation of subjectification and objectification. (3) Political centripetality. This may be confined or elaborated: a governing body that engages a confining process limits the capacity for centripetality, thereby retaining power for its immediate membership even where social intensification and complexification may be recognised to occur. When a governing body participates in elaborating process, political centripetality is engaged resulting in power distribution. The degree of elaboration is related to how local to the individual it is. The space of political temperament presupposes that all three dimensions are interactively independent, as determined by the factor analysis study of Eysenk. We note that in the original model discussed by Duverger, the dimension of mindedness was taken to be hard or soft. However, it is possible to define political temperament as hard/soft as a whole. Consider an illustration of what is meant here. A hard political temperament may arise when: (1) governance is autocratic; (2) the social community (through its governing body) objectifies others; and (3) constrained political centripetality occurs so that power is assigned to those within the governing body. This likely will result in a hard political temperament. An alternative scenario that might not be characterised as a hard political temperament could be: (1) governance is autocratic; (2) others are objectified; and (3) elaborated political centripetality occurs that will enable power to be distributed locally and closer to the individual (in this case the governing body takes on the role of the goalkeeper).

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The political temperament of members of a social community is embedded in their attitudes, and if a normative political temperament develops this will contribute to the formation of a political culture. This establishes a set of axioms that contributes to the formation of a paradigm[16]. It is from the paradigm that a network of principles in a second order ontological couple[17] can arise that affects the political processes that may be considered to constitute a first order ontological couple[18]. 5. Measuring political temperament Measuring political temperament could well occur through the use of measuring instruments in a way similar to that undertaken by Eysenk, though rather than use factor analysis as the method of analysis it would seek an alternative approach. This would measure the attitudes of members of social communities (having a recognisable political culture) in respect of each of the dimensions, then seek to establish the existence of measurable normative attitudes that constitute social community political temperament, perhaps through correlation analysis. To give meaning to the measurements, in Figure 4 we have assigned numerical bounds (0,1) to the axes in the same way as Yolles (1998, 1999a, 2000d) using landmark theory and as discussed by Yolles (2003). The technique was earlier described by Yolles (1998), that also suggests a way for formulating an overall measure of political temperament softness/hardness. To move beyond the attitudes that constitute political culture and find measures that relate it to autogenesis, autopoiesis, and eventually behaviour, further research inquiry is needed. 6. Conclusion Viable systems theory is a critical approach that operates from a base of managerial cybernetics. It adopts Schwarz’s ontology and proposes that autonomous social communities can be explored in terms of three domains that have developed from Beer’s epistemology, each of which has cognitive properties. Some of these clearly represent political cybernetics. The theory of political temperament is grounded in theory about political culture, and ultimately connects with the way that power is created, distributed and used. Political temperament, it has been argued, can be expressed as a complex space determined by political management (governance), political mindedness, and political centripetality. Social communities, whether they are enterprise or civic social communities, may be seen as social collectives, and may be argued to have distinct forms of political management, pursued with a certain style that can be associated with political mindedness. Through their ideology they distribute power (political centripetality) in a way that is ultimately conditioned by their ability to appreciate the existence of their participation in processes of social intensification and complexification, resulting in modes of power distribution. While the development of social communities involves the distribution of power through a centripetal process, as this occurs other mechanisms may develop such that this is overwhelmed by oppressive practices (in the sense of Habermas) like subjugation, diminution, or exclusion for reasons that may include gain or prejudice. These can be directly related to the passive structural violence that social communities


usually embrace but do not always recognise. It occurs through a hard political temperament that embraces objectification in the sense of Foucault as described by Yolles (2003), and subordinates who experience this can become emancipated through the political process that embraces subjectification. Another way of embracing self-liberation from structural violence may be by countering confining power distribution, but this is a road that can lead to transformational political culture, and social revolution. There is a potential to measure the political temperament of both the individuals that make up a social community, and its normative nature, and it has the capacity through social viable system theory to explain some social community behaviours.
Notes 1. After Husserl (1911/1950), where “physical reality” is seen in terms of as conscious experience. 2. The three types of knowledge indicated here have been identified and discussed in Yolles (2000c) 3. An ontological couple intimately connects two domains such that ontological migrations are possible. 4. We define an ontological migration as the manifestation of elements from one reality (or validity claim about reality) to another to which it is ontologically coupled. 5. There is an argument, expressed for example in Mingers (1995), that autopoiesis is not appropriate to social systems unless it is expressed as a metaphor. There is nothing wrong in defining SVT as a metaphor. Following Brown (2003), however, metaphors are more important to the development of scientific principles than Mingers and others appear to realise. 6. Requisite variety was the term coined in 1956 by Ashby and is the variety that a system must have in order to deal with environmental variety. Jackson in 1992 identified three requirements needed to achieve requisite variety: the organisation should have the best possible model of the environment relevant to its form; the organisation’s information flows should reflect the nature of that environment so that the organisation is responsive to it; communications that link different functions within an organisation are important. 7. When Eysenk used the notion of political temperament it was in respect of his belief that it is genetic rather than learned. This distinction is, however, irrelevant for our context. When we say “associated with the group”, it is quite possible for people who join a political group do not maintain a prescribed political temperament. It relates to the capacity of people to live with ambiguity and paradox by differentiating their ontological domains, but this is a more complex matter that we can discuss here. 8. In this context we are really talking about the migration of knowledge that works in a way similar to that of a message from a source to a sink. In this case knowledge from the source paradigm is migrated to a sink paradigm. Hence, while the theme may be the similar (e.g. intelligence), the context (e.g. child and social collective) and paradigmatic distinctions will result in different local meanings. 9. Poststructuralism as the official theory of language and text that helps us make sense of the postmodern world, and adopts the notion that one cannot simply differentiate between an object and a subject (e.g. a book and a reader of that book), because the object is not just a passive entity, but is interactive with the subject, and can be expressed as a shift from the signified to the signifier. Within the collective context, post-structuralists argue that there are no eternal truths or laws governing society. Knowledge of institutions and other systems is dependent on language which is itself contingent on cultural and knowledge, and meaning

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16. 17.


is a subjective process that depends on people’s shared understandings. Consequently there are no unique deep structures in any message, but a plurality that are dependent upon the interaction between a message source and sink. By the “decentred subject” is meant the illustratable ways in which the subject (the individual as a fully conscious self with its beliefs and behaviours) cannot have autonomy from linguistic, social, cultural, political, ethical, legal or psycho-sexual power, and cannot be fully conscious of its intentions or affects in the world. We are talking here about the migration of knowledge that works in a way similar to that of a message from a source to a sink. In this case knowledge from the source paradigm is migrated to a sink paradigm. Hence, while the theme may be the similar (e.g. intelligence), the context (e.g. child and social collective) and paradigmatic distinctions will result in different local meanings. The plural actor is composed of a number of unitary actors (individuals), and can be defined as a coherent social actor that operates through normative processes resulting in mediating structures. The term shareholder is normally used for a corporate enterprise where those being referred to make a financial benefit from the enterprise, but in civil situations we might instead mean residency rewards. Of course it is here that the difference between civil governance and enterprise governance is highlighted. In civil governance life and death really can mean that, but in enterprise governance it may just mean losing ones employment. We are referring here to systemic emergence, that Yolles (1999a) defines as occurring where a system’s perceived pattern of behaviour can be described in terms of some large scale emergent concept. This process is well theorised, as indicated for instance in Yolles (1999a, b). There might be various forms of second order ontological couple, and we have already referred to strategic management as a possible example. As such it is relatable to autogenesis when it satisfies the formal definition of autogenesis. Schwaninger’s (2001) notion of operative management may be a form of political process that under the right conditions may be seen as autopoietic.

References Beer, S. (1979), The Heart of Enterprise, Wiley, New York, NY. Belbin, M.R. (2001), Managing without Power: Gender Relationships in the Story of Human Evolution, Butterworth Heinemann, London. Brown, T.L. (2003), Making Truth: Metaphor in Science, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL. Boudourides, M.A. (1997), “Accounts of sociality in the information society”, paper presented at the International Conference on “Electronic Commerce”, Metsovo, 4-6 July, available at: , mboudour/ Caporael, L.R. (1995), “Sociality: coordinating bodies, minds and groups”, Psycoloquy, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 1-15, available at: Davis, G.B. and Olson, M.H. (1984), Management Information Systems: Conceptual Foundations, Structure, and Development, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY. Duverger, M. (1972), The Study of Politics, Nelson, London. Foucault, M. (1982), “The subject and power, Vol. 8, pp. 777–95, and in Crictical Inquiry”, in Dreyfus, H., Rabinow, P. and Foucault, M. (2000), Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics,

University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL Also available in Faubion, F. (ed.), 2000, Power, New Press, New York, NY, Translated by Robert Hurley. Giddens, A. (1984), The Constitution of Society, Polity Press, Cambridge. Habermas, J. (1987), The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 2, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK. Husserl (1911/1950), Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft, Logos, English translation by Quentin Lauer in Husserl 1965, pp. 71-147 Vol. 1, pp. 289-341. MacIsaac, D. (1996), The Critical Theory of Jurgan Habermas, available at: www.physics.nau. edu/ , danmac Marshall, S.P. (1995), Schemes in Problem Solving, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MA. Maturana, H. and Varela, F.J. (1979), Autopoiesis and Cognition, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Boston, MA. Midgley, G. (2000), Systemic Intervention: Philosophy, Methodology, and Practice, Kluwer/Plenum, New York, NY. Mingers, J. (1995), Self-Producing Systems, Plenum, New York, NY. Piaget, J. (1970), Structuralism, Basic Books, New York, NY. Reilly, B. (2001), Democracy in Divided Societies: Electoral Engineering for Conflict Management, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. Schwarz, E. (1997), “Towards a holistic cybernetics: from science through epistemology to being”, Cybernetics and Human Knowing, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 17-50. Schwaninger, M. (2001), “Intelligent organisations: an integrative framework”, Sys. Res., Vol. 18, pp. 137-58. Van Mesdag, M. (1991), Think Marketing: Strategies for Effective Management Action, Mercury Books, London. Vickers, G. (1965), The Art of Judgement (Reprinted 1983, Harper and Row, London), Chapman and Hall, London. Viskovatoff, A. (1999), “Foundations of Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social systems”, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 481-515. Yolles, M.I. (1998), “Changing paradigms in operational research”, Cybernetics and Systems, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 91-112. Yolles, M.I. (1999a), Management Systems: A Viable Approach, Financial Times Pitman, London. Yolles, M.I. (1999b), “Management systems, conflict, and the changing roles of the military”, Journal of Conflict Processes, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 13-28. Yolles, M.I. (2000a), “The theory of viable joint ventures”, Cybernetics and Systems, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 371-96. Yolles, M.I. (2000b), “From viable systems to surfing the organisation”, Journal of Applied Systems, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 127-42. Yolles, M.I. (2000c), “Organisations, complexity, and viable knowledge management”, Kybernetes, Vol. 29 Nos 9/10, p. 20. Yolles, M.I. (2000d), “The viable theory of knowledge management”, Research Memorandum of the Janus Centre for Research in Management Systems and Cybernetics, Vol. 3, No. 1, Information Management Centre, Liverpool Business School, Liverpool. Yolles, M.I. (2001), “Viable boundary critique”, Journal of Operational Research Society, Vol. 51, pp. 0-12. Yolles, M.I. (2003), “The political cybernetics of organisations”, Kybernetes, Vol. 23 Nos 9/10, pp. 1253-82.

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Yolles, M.I. and Guo, K. (2003), “Paradigmatic metamorphosis and organisational development”, Sys. Res., Vol. 20, pp. 177-99. Further reading Harrison, I.H. (1994), Diagnosing Organizations: Methods, Models and Processes, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Piaget, J. (1977), The Development of Thought: Equilibration of Cognitive Structures, Viking, New York, NY.


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