Vickers’ Concept of Relationship-Maintaining and the Nature of Regulation

  • Daune West


In their text, Client-led Design, Stowell and West (1994) suggested that Vickers’ concept of relationship-maintaining might provide a basis of a concept of organisation that was more appropriate to interpretive IS work than the ‘traditional’ goal-seeking view of organisation. Whilst they may have gone one step further than Walsham (1993) in trying to make explicit the model of organisation their work implied, they failed to develop the model beyond a description of the nature of appreciation and its application in IS work. More recently, Checkland and Holwell (1998) have set down what they refer to as the “conventional wisdom model of ‘an organisation’ in much of the IS literature” (p82), which is based upon the pursuit of organisational goals, and compare this with what they propose as “a richer model of the concept of ‘an organisation’ than the ‘conventional wisdom’ [model]” (ibid., p83). Their ‘conventional wisdom’ model is based upon the premise that organizations are taken to exist as entities in the ‘real world’; that is, they are treated as “a conscious, person-like entity capable of unitary purposeful action” (ibid., p82). In this model, organizational members are considered to understand and share the organization’s aims and objectives, and consequently, work within the organization to attain these objectives. Objective attainment is commonly expressed through the concepts and language of ‘goal-seeking’. Checkland and Holwell state that “Philosophically, this is a positivistic model, sociologically, a functionalist one” (ibid., p82).


Conventional Wisdom Organizational Member Single Goal Rich Model Causal Loop Diagram 
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  4. Vickers, G. (1965).The Art of Judgement: A Study of Policy Making, Chapman and Hall, London.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daune West
    • 1
  1. 1.Computing and Information SystemsUniversity of PaisleyUK

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