Publication 1209

Zeleny M. (2010) Machine/organism dichotomy and free-market economics: Crisis or transformation?. Human Systems Management 29: 191–204. Fulltext at
The free-market economy is being continually challenged – by governments, monopolies, “too big to fail” enterprises, global banks and social experimentation. Crisis is still considered to be a failure of the capitalistic system rather than a failure of the politicized state and governmental institutions unable to abstain from interfering with free-market fundamentals. Crisis represents a necessary catharsis which periodically renews and regenerates prevailing business ecology. At the same time, especially with the current crisis, the system is undergoing fundamental transformation, change of paradigm and change of dominant business models. Transformations get naturally confounded with crises. Man’s failure and challenge is that we repeatedly fail to do the catharsis of crisis – without the crisis. Disentangling the phenomena of crisis from those of transformation is the main aim of this paper. We address the issues of unemployment in the post-crisis environment, especially in the U.S. We trace the difficulties to treating the economy as a deterministic machine while it behaves as an adaptive organism. Relevance: It is claimed that the theory of autopoiesis is applicable to social, business and management systems because they are mostly natural, spontaneous, self-organizing and self-equilibrating organisms, not mechanistic contrivances.


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