Publication 6243

Ben-Eli M. U. & Probst G. J. B. (1986) The way you look determines what you see or self-organization in management and society. In: Trappl R. (ed.) Cybernetics and Systems ’86. Reidel, Dordrecht: 277–284. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/6243
The concept of self-organization is reviewed and its implications are explored in relation to management processes and social systems. A world view is taken, emphasizing a descriptive distinction of levels associated with the physical, biological, social, and mental. Self-organization principles, it is argued, are operative in all levels of such a stratified scheme, but they are manifest in different mechanisms and different embodiments. \\Management, planning, design, and other “intervention” type of activities are among the processes through which self-organization is manifest in the social domain. Ultimately they have to do with maintaining, enriching, and amplifying the potential variety of the systems concerned. The operationally critical question involved, it is suggested, is not whether management activities are “man-made” or “natural,” spontaneous” or “planned,” but rather, whether they enhance or supress the potential variety of a system under consideration.

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