Publication 6321

Kickert W. J. M. (1993) Autopoiesis and the science of (public) administration: Essence, sense and nonsense. Organization Studies 14(2): 261–278. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/6321
The model of ‘autopoiesis’ – originally a biological model of a living system – has stimulated some outstanding social and administrative scientists to creative thinking about possible implications and applications. In this paper, the applicability of the model to the science of (public) administration is discussed. Applying a natural scientific model to a social science is hazardous. The paper begins with a description of the original model and a discussion of its systems theoretical implications. Next a review of the various interpretations of autopoiesis in different fields of the social sciences is presented. Finally an attempt is made to perform a careful translation and cautious application. \\The autopoiesis model seems to offer new insights into the self-governance of organizations. The model opens a fundamentally different perspective on the relationship between organization and environment. From an organization science point of view the model seems intriguing enough to have a close look at it.

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