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1 March 2010

Presentation outline

1.1. System
2.2. Systems theory
3.3. Systems approach to
4.4. General systems theory
5.5. Social systems theory

"No longer do we see the world in

a blind play of atoms, but

rather a great organization.”
- Harper Perennial, 1987
A set of things or parts forming a
A system is a composition of
several components working
together to accomplish a set
number of objectives. -
Ernest Madara (2008)
A system can be biological,
physical or social.
Ecosystem, solar system, a
business or an organization
Systems exist at all levels
Øcultures and so on.

Each social entity whether

large or small , complex or
simple , is a holon (Greek =
expresses the idea that each entity is
simultaneously a part and a whole).




A system consists of
four things
I.Objects – the parts, elements, or
variables within the system. These
may be physical or abstract or both.
II.Attributes – the qualities or
properties of the system and its
III.Internal relationships among
T h u s, a syste m is a se t o f th in g s th a t its
a ffe ct o n e a n o th e r w ith in a n e n viro n m e n t
n d fo rm a la rg e r p–asystems
tte rn th a exist in an
t is d iffe re n t
fro m environment.
a n y o f th e p a rts.
Characteristics of a
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
+ others like evolving / adaptability /
hierarchy / chain of influence (suprasystems
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
scanner etc.
b)Throughput (Process) – this element
transforms or manipulates the input into
results (central processing unit within a
computer system)
c)Output- the ultimate result or product
after processing. e.g. information for
decision making
Types of
a)Open vs. closed systems
b)Adaptive system (self organizing system
or cybernetic system)
c)Physical vs. abstract systems
d)Deterministic vs. probabilistic systems
e)Natural vs. man-made system
f) Mechanistic vs. biological systems
g)Information system (management
information system)
h) controlled (cybernetic) or uncontrolled
An organization is an open
system that brings together
people to undertake activities
for achieving an objective
which can be profit-oriented
(business) or charity-oriented
e.g. local authority.
The organizations are made up of
people in different departments
that are governed by known
policies and procedures.
energy and labor and through its
production systems transforms or adds
value to these to producegoods / services.
It is obligatory for the management to
control the various operations by
collecting feedback from customers to
remain relevant and where necessary it
may have to enhance performance or take
corrective actions if the results are below

Each department has a boundary of functions. A

change in the environment can have a profound
impact upon the entire system.
Systemic Thinking
§ Using the mind to recognize
pattern, conceive unity, and form
some coherent wholeness –
seeking to complete the picture.
§ Comprehension of the
whole/part nature of life is the
central tenet of systemic
§ System thinking focuses on
causes, rather than occurrences
around organizations in solving
The in an Educational
learning experience subsystem: the
cognitive information processing of the learner
- Banathy (1987)
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’
Basic idea : objects in the world are
interrelated to one another.
It provides a framework by which
groups of elements and their
properties may be studied jointly in
order to understand their outcomes.
The fundamental systems-interactive
model of organizational analysis features
the continual stages of input, throughput,
and output .
System Model. Littlejohn (1999)
 Input Process Output
Activities •Concentration
•burning fuels of Rise in Global
•deforestation GHG increases Temperature
•Industrializat •Unhealthy GHE (Global warming)
ion behavior
Solar Energy
System Model Of Climate
Change Change
Health Effects on
•Temperature related Pathways
illness and death Impact
•Air pollution •Transmissio •
related n •Regional
•Water and food dynamics weather
borne disease change
•Vector borne •Heat waves
•Changes in agro- •Extreme weather
disease -ecosystem hydrology
and water shortage •Temperature
•Socio-economic •Precipitation
•Mental, nutritional and demographic
and disruption
other health effects
Climate Change& Human Health . NYSoCC,
Øall phenomena can be viewed as
a web of relationships among

Øall 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
The systems approach
Components of the organizational
concepts (systems approach) have
been used to manage armies and
governments for millennia.
However, it was not until the
Industrial Revolution of the 19th
and 20th centuries that formal
recognition of the "systems"
approach to management,
philosophy, and science emerged.
Specialization: A system is divided into smaller
components allowing more specialized concentration
on each component.
Grouping: Related (sub)disciplines are grouped to
avoid generating greater complexity with increasing
Coordination: The interactions among the
components are coordinated.
Emergent properties: Dividing a system into
subsystems requires understanding the "emergent
properties" of a system; i.e., recognizing why the
system as a whole is greater than the sum of its
parts. E.g. two forest stands may contain the same
tree species, but the spatial arrangement and size
3. Systems Approach to
It views a company as an
interconnected purposive
system that consists of
several business sections.
It is the study of 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
Business Systems
The collaborative working of input and
output factors = the flow in a system.
The processes consist of several
subsystems that are interconnected
by procedures.
The response/feedback focuses on the
information 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
The systems approach to
management is based on GST – the
theory that says that to understand
fully the operation of an entity, the
entity must be viewed as a system
which requires
It implies understanding
that every the
manager should
much more preciseof its parts.
about decision-
making and information flow.
First a detailed systems study will be
necessary to decide on the best
objectives and then subsidiary
systems must be set up to realize
these objectives efficiently.
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
7-S Model
A framework for analyzing organizations and their
1. Strategy;
2. Structure;
3. Systems;
4. Style;
5. Skills;
6. Staff; and
7. Shared values.
To improve management of an organization,
one has 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
Nothing can be understood in isolation but
must be seen as part of a system.
Includes the narrower field of social systems,
is a cross-disciplinary body of scientific
thought that developed during the 20th
General systems theory can be defined as:
system in which the elements are in
exchange, and which are bounded
constitute a system, which operates within
an environment.
System change may be natural, planned or
GST was originally proposed by
Ludwig von Bertalanffy in 1928.
He proposed that a system is
characterized by the interactions
of its components and the
nonlinearity of those
Contd. Background
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. In 1951, von Bertalanffy
extended systems theory to include biological
"Humanistic" Features of General Systems
It also
The implies
Bertalanffian GSTthat
is ethical
and tendsitto
ecological because aims at
increasing the awareness
treat life with in
every human of the need of being
reverence, and also
functionally interconnected with
each to with
other, treat each
other with
community, withdignity.
the whole
Social Systems
 A philosophical viewpoint on the
relationship of persons with their
social environment .

 A social system is composed of persons
or groups 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 .
The Social Systems
The social systems approach
encompasses both holistic (group/ top-
down) and atomistic (individual/bottom-
up) views at once.
The holistic view implied “downward”
causality, while the atomistic view
implied “upward” causality.
Holistic Viewpoint:
◦ The whole determines the actions of its
◦ People are determined by society.
Atomistic Viewpoint:
5. Social System Theory
A social system is a set of inter-related
and inter-dependent components
People, Families, Groups,
Organizations, Communities, etc are
System BOUNDARIES separate one
system from the next– and tension
occurs at the boundary.
Social systems are characterized by
COMPLEXITY, meaning that the
Social System Theory

*Emphasis is placed on the

“root causes” of social

* Social justice is the

ultimate goal
Social System Theory is
“holonistic” requiring:
◦ Specification of the focal
◦ Specification of the units
that constitute that holon
◦ Specification of the
significant environmental
◦ Specification of one’s own
Process Factors affecting social
A change in one part of the system will impact
changes in other parts of system
Two internal processes affecting social
systems :
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)
Changes in Social
Changes in systems may come about
in a variety of ways, for example, by
accessing and influencing the elite
decision-makers. Changes 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
For a system to function as a system, rather
than a collection of parts, it must have ways of
self-organizing 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.
In a 1980 lecture, cosmologist
Stephen Hawking pointed out
that Chaos theory is an attempt
to explain and model the
seemingly random components
of a system.
One of the most important
discoveries from chaos theory is
that a relatively small, but well-
timed or well-placed jolt to a
system can throw the entire
system into a state of chaos.
Approaches to the Study of
A cross-sectional
approach deals with the
interaction between two

A developmental
approach deals with the
changes in a system over
Approaches to evaluating
A holistic approach examines the
system as a complete functioning
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
All three approaches recognize the
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
Homeostasis is the condition of dynamic
equilibrium between at least two
system variables. Kuhn (1974) states
The concept of system appears throughout
the social and natural sciences and has
generated a body of literature of its own
(‘general systems theory’). A system is
any pattern of relationships between
elements, and is regarded as having
emergent properties of its own, over and
above the properties of its elements. The
system is seen as possessing an inherent
tendency towards equilibrium and the
analysis of systems is the analysis of the
mechanisms which maintain equilibrium,
19 Feb. 2010
19 Feb. 2010.
18 Feb 2010.
Jenkins, G. M. & P. V. Youle. (1968). A
Systems Approach to Management. Vol.
19, (Apr., 1968), pp. 5-21. <>16
Feb 2010.

Madara, Ernest. (Feb 12, 2008). System Theory and
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> 19 Feb 2010.
Panthi, Rakesh.(2008). Climate Change and Human
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Rampur, Stephen. (2009). Introduction to system
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> 17 Feb 2010.
Ritzer, George. (2000). Sociological theory (5th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw-Hill.
Social Systems Theory: Human Behavior and the
Social Environment.
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>17 Feb 2010.
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