The variety engineering method: analyzing and designing information flows in organizations

  • Christoph RosenkranzEmail author
  • Roland Holten
Original Article


In every organization, various decisions have to be made continuously, from the simple choice, which customer order to be processed next, to the serious question, whether to select a new supplier or to cancel an existing one. All of these decisions are supported by the provision of relevant information. Therefore the efficiency of a value chain is strongly influenced by the accurate setup of information flows. To make organizations more effective and efficient, one needs to understand what information flows are currently available and how information flows should be designed for a given organization. However, there is hardly any methodology available in order to analyze and redesign information flows in organizations in a structured way. Using the design science research framework, we develop a method for the analysis and design of information flows in organizations. Our research on the Variety Engineering Method (VEM) attempts to develop a method to analyze, diagnose and design information flows. VEM is built based on systems theory and cybernetics, especially the Viable System Model. VEM has been tested internally, and evaluated externally through field studies. In this paper, we present VEM in detail and discuss some general issues involved in its development, including the application of concepts form method engineering and evaluation in field studies.


Organizational design Business engineering Viable system model Variety engineering Conceptual modeling Method engineering 



We are grateful to the guest editors and the anonymous reviewers for very helpful feedback and advice. In addition we would like to thank Bastian Beck, Harald Kolbe, Marcus Laumann and Abdelghani Zafa for their contribution to this work. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funded parts of this work within the scope of the research project “Mind-Bau” under record no. 01FD0611.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 355 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and Business AdministrationGoethe UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany

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