Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 261–274 | Cite as

Vickers’ Concept of ‘Relationship-Maintenance’ as an Alternative to ‘Goal-Seeking’ Models of Organisation: A Difference in the Notion of Control

  • Daune West


The concept of ‘goal-seeking’ has had a powerful influence on thinking about organizations. Whilst the concept is undeniably useful it is argued that it is also a very narrow concept of organization which can limit the way in which we think about human decision making and action. Vickers’ idea of relationship-maintenance is reviewed as a richer concept to help us think about human activity systems such as organizations. The differences between goal-seeking and relationship-maintenance are explored and explained by reference to the different way in which the concept of ‘control,’ or ‘regulation,’ is incorporated within each.


goal-seeking relationship-maintenance regulation appreciative system control 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computing and Information SystemsUniversity of PaisleyPaisleyScotland

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