Publication 5031

Boxer P. J. & Cohen B. (2000) Doing time: The emergence of irreversibility. In: Chandler J. & Van de Vijver G. (eds.) Closure: Emergent organizations and their dynamics. New York Academy of Sciences, New York: 13–25.
By considering an enterprise to be a system of agents that observe and construct theories about themselves immediately raises issues of closure. These in turn pose questions about the identity and evolution of that which is exhibiting such closure. We address these questions by assigning enterprises to a class of systems whose models are triply articulated. The existential articulation provides an account of the possible behaviors of the enterprise’s agents and of their interoperation. The referential articulation specifies outcomes that its agents are required to satisfy. The deontic articulation imposes constraints on the composition of the other two articulations that are sufficient to ensure that the enterprise effectively implements its specified requirements. Any of these articulations may be under-determined in that they admit more than one elaboration. The behavioral closure of an enterprise is a kind of composition (formally, a category theoretic limit construction) of its three articulations. If the enterprise is its own observer, then the articulations are its models of itself. The enterprise has many opportunities for error in constructing this model. In particular, it may find that it cannot choose among its under-determined articulations in such a way that their composition is internally consistent. Such errors necessitate changes to its model, which may be denoted as steps in an irreversible trajectory through a space of such models. This approach seems to provide a conceptual bridge across the gulf between systems theory and psychoanalysis, and has provided valuable insights into strategy formulation within large enterprises.
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