Systems practice

, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 653–670 | Cite as

A critique of hierarchy theory

  • Jennifer Wilby


In our zeal to apply models successfully, failures of the model are often overlooked. A model may be used for quite some time before its success is questioned or before the model fails to be applied successfully. Since hierarchy theory has been deemed successful in the systems field, it is necessary and appropriate to critique the development and application of hierarchy theory using the framework presented inCreative Problem Solving (Flood and Jackson, 1992). That framework proposes a critique that uses the four areas of theory, utility, ideology, and methodology in reviewing a systems theory. It is important to examine hierarchy theory through the analytical filter of critical systems thinking if we are genuinely to understand what hierarchy theory has to offer systems thinking in the exploration of complex situations.

Key words

hierarchy critical systems thinking critique 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Wilby
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Systems Studies, Newlands HouseUniversity of HullHullUK

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