Views of Operational Systems

  • Alec M. Lee
Part of the Studies in Management book series (STMA)


The publication of the Novum Organum, the most important event of 1620, conveniently marks the inauguration of the era of conscious, systematic, objective inquiry into the problems of the natural environment: that is, of the deliberate application of the scientific method. The scientific triumphs of the following century endowed the method with great prestige, and the concepts upon which they were based—those of the framework and the clockwork—became the common intellectual currency of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Kings in England and in Prussia, philosophers throughout Western Europe, politicians and statesmen, technologists and economists all succumbed to the spell of the methods and concepts of natural science. Some time was to elapse however, before the scientific method became applied to the problems of the interior of Organisations such as individual businesses, industrial firms, government departments and—even more slowly—universities. Economics postulated on the basis of ideas of assemblies of competing firms and concerned with the behaviour of assemblies rather than complexes was directed towards problems of the environment of an Organisation rather than to those of the interior. When at last systematic studies of internal problems did start, they were sporadic. It was many decades before any concerted scientific study of the internal behaviour of Organisations emerged. At first, the emphasis was all upon the internal problems of operational processes—above all of production-directed operational processes. Even accountancy, nowadays so closely associated with systematic—albeit conventional—uses of an important part of the historical record, developed relatively late in the forms relevant to internal problems.


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Notes and References

  1. G. Kotowski, W. Pols and G. A. Ritter, Das Wilhelminische Deutschland (Fischer Bücherei, Frankfurt am Main, 1965).Google Scholar
  2. see for example G. C. Homans, The Human Group (Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1950)Google Scholar
  3. C. Cofer, The Organisation From Within (Tavistock Publications, London, 1961).Google Scholar
  4. R. Blake and J. Mouton, The Managerial Grid (Gulf Publishing Co, Houston, 1964).Google Scholar
  5. J. E. McCloskey and F. E. Trefethen, Operations Research For Management (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1954)Google Scholar
  6. R. W. Clark, The Rise of the Boffins (Phoenix House Ltd, London, 1962)Google Scholar
  7. P. M. S. Blackett, Studies of War (Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 1962) especially pp. 101–19.Google Scholar
  8. see C. P. Snow, Science and Government (Harvard University Press, 1960).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© A. M. Lee 1970

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  • Alec M. Lee

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