Stafford Beer

  • Magnus Ramage
  • Karen Shipp

Stafford Beer was a consultant, manager and cybernetician. He was the first person to apply cybernetics to management problems. He combined theory and practice in a highly integrated way, always working as a practitioner but making a number of important contributions in both methodology and theory. His writing was highly inspirational as well as academically rigorous, and he had a profound impact upon those with whom he worked as a consultant and colleague. As Rosenhead (2006, p. 581) has written, “he explored in his work the implications of a holistic approach to organizational and social problems, and exemplified this approach in his own life”.


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  1. Beer, S. (1974/1995). Designing freedom. Chichester: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Beer, S. (1981). Brain of the firm. Chichester: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  3. Beer, S. (1984). The viable system model: Its provenance, development, methodology and pathology. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 35(1), 7–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beer, S. (1987). Holism and the Frou-Frou Slander. Kybernetes, 17(1), 23–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Espejo, R. (1989). The VSM revisited. In R. Espejo, & R. Harnden (Eds.), The viable system model revisited: Interpretations and applications of Stafford Beer's VSM (pp. 77–100). Chichester: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Jackson, M. C. (1989). Evaluating the managerial significance of the VSM. In R. Espejo, & R. Harnden (Eds.), The viable system model revisited: Interpretations and applications of Stafford Beer's VSM (pp. 407–439). Chichester: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Leonard, A. (2002). Stafford Beer: September 25 1926 – August 23 2002. Accessed 13 Jan 2009.
  8. Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1980). Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Reidel.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Pickering, A. (2004). The science of the unknowable: Stafford Beer's cybernetic informatics. Kybernetes, 33(3/4), 499–521.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Rosenhead, J. (2006). IFORS operational research hall of fame: Stafford Beer. International Transactions in Operational Research, 13(6), 577–581.MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Open University 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Magnus Ramage
    • 1
  • Karen Shipp
    • 1
  1. 1.The Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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