Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 13–37 | Cite as

Describing the Necessity of Multi-Methodological Approach for Viable System Model: Case Study of Viable System Model and System Dynamics Multi-Methodology

  • Amin Vahidi
  • Alireza AliahmadiEmail author
Original Paper


The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework based on the Viable System Model (VSM) and the System Dynamics (SD) that dynamizes and simulates VSM. Failure in non-systemic solutions for management problems, urges managers to search for alternative management solutions. Therefore, managers chose Systems Thinking to tackle management complexity in organizations. In recent years, the need for alternative management solutions has given rise to increased popularity of methodologies such as system dynamics and viable system models. Moreover, managers are the victims of systemic failure in non-systemic organizational methodologies due to the one-dimensional and non-holistic views of the organizations (each methodology presents one dimension and viewpoint to the organization). To address the above issues and to facilitate complexity management in organizations, such methodologies should be reconciled and applied together in the form of a complementary multi-methodological approach. Therefore, to close this gap in the literature, this paper seeks to develop a new multi-methodological approach based on Viable System Model (VSM) and System Dynamics (SD). In this context, a dynamic model is developed that handles and manages knowledge throughout the organization together with a general SD framework that models organizational problem-solving. VSM literature review shows there are demands for such dynamic knowledge-based organizational design and diagnosis methodology. The developed multi-methodological approach enables the design of a dynamic complexity handling structure and its associated processes in any given organization. This research result is providing an approach that is more suitable and comprehensive as it dynamizes VSM and covers for the weaknesses of both SD and VSM. Then, the multi-methodology is applied in a management consulting company and the results are presented. The application of the multi-methodology and proposed policy results demonstrates improved organizational problem-solving abilities in terms of speed and manageability of problems.


Systems thinking Organizational structure System dynamics Viable system model Multi-methodology 



We are grateful to the respected reviewers for their valuable comments that helped to enrich the research. We also thank this journal for creating a ground for cybernetics science exchanges.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Industrial Engineering DepartmentIran University of Science and TechnologyTehranIran

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