The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

General Systems Theory

  • Kenneth E. Boulding
Reference work entry


The term ‘general systems’ refers to a movement among a wide variety of scholars to overcome the barriers of communication which divide the established disciplines, by developing theoretical concepts and systems which are common to the different disciplines. Biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy originated the movement with his concept of ‘open systems’. The Society for General Systems Research, originally called the Society for the Advancement of General Systems, was founded at a meeting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Berkeley, California, in December 1954. The economist Kenneth E. Boulding was the first president. The Society issues the General Systems Yearbook, partly of reprinted, partly of original articles, of which the first editor was Anatol Rapoport, a mathematician and game theorist. The yearbooks are still published, and a number of journals now contribute to the field.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth E. Boulding
    • 1
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