Systems Approach to Management: Hopes, Promises, Doubts — A Lot of Questions and Some Afterthoughts

  • F. Malik
Part of the Springer Series in Synergetics book series (SSSYN, volume 26)


By choosing general systems theory and cybernetics as a basis for a new sort of management theory many more problems arose than were solved. Let me give you a very personal account of how I see our endeavours to understand and use systems sciences and thereby of the state of our understanding. Expectations were very high but the obstacles proved to be very difficult to overcome:
  1. 1.

    It was necessary to learn a completely new language and to acquire new ways of thinking for the adoption of which both management scientists and management practitioners were and are badly prepared.

  2. 2.

    The classical perspective of a one-dimensional economistic sort of micro-economics (Betriebswirtschaftslehre) and the uni-directional causal thinking of classical management theory dominated almost everything that was going on in these areas. It proved not only very difficult and almost impossible to identify the hidden assumptions and premises of these approaches but the main problem was that on the basis of such premises world pictures and world realities were constructed by the very conduct of managers which in turn was the best and irrefutable proof of the correctness of their ways of thinking.

  3. 3.

    At a closer look general systems theory itself appeared to be of only limited help due to its inherent problems which mainly resulted from its very diverse and irreconcilable approaches. The only unity in this allegedly unifying science seemed to be the very frequent use of the word “system”.



Modify Transfer Function General System Theory Autopoietic System Hide Assumption Classical Perspective 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Malik
    • 1
  1. 1.Hochschule für Wirtschafts- und SozialwissenschaftenInstitut für BetriebswirtschaftSt. GallenSwitzerland

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