For more than forty years, the literature on organizations and firms considered as cybernetic systems is rich in authors who favour this interpretation (Kast and Rosenzweig, 1972; Beer, 1981; Jackson, 1993) as well as in texts that affirm the difficulty if not the impossibility of considering organizations as cybernetic systems (Tannenbaum, 1972, Sutherland, 1975).
This paper belongs to the first group. It is clear upon observation that organizations are cybernetic systems not only from an interpretative theoretical point of view but also due to their intrinsic nature as self-regulating systems.
To better demonstrate how they carry out their regulation, we consider the organizations-firms as Control Systems.
We are convinced that in order to remain vital for a long period of time in a perturbed environment, organizations – in particular, firms – must undertake control activities regarding their organizational, economic and financial variables. This theoretical study holds that organizations-firms “are” Control Systems that can survive “only if” their management can achieve the vital objectives set by the stakeholers.
Since the entire chain of control is inside the system, and management is part of the same control structure, organizations-firms can be “intrinsically” – and not only representatively-speaking – conceived of as control systems even from various points of view:
1. as autopoietic systems, following Maturana and Varela’s conception;
2. as teleonomic systems, following Monod’s conception;
3. as viable systems, following Beer’s conception;
4. as systems of efficient transformation, following Mella’s conception;
5. as cognitive, intelligent and explorative systems;
6. as multi-objective and multilevered Control Systems of performance.
|Keywords:||Organizations as Cybernetic Systems, Organizations as Viable Systems, Organizations as Control Systems, Organizations as Systems of Efficient Transformation, Organizations as Cognitive Systems|
Lecturer, Department of Business Research, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
Chair of Business Administration, Department of Management Research, Faculty of Economics, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
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