Organizations as Open Systems

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Systems theory is an extension of the humanistic perspective that describes organizations as open systems characterized by entropy, synergy and subsystem interdependence. The systems theory is one of the recent historical trends of organization and management (the other two are contingency view and total quality management). General systems theory grew out of the organismic views of L. Bertalanffy and other biologists during1950s and K. Boulding, D. Katz, R. Kahn, F. Kast, J. Rosenzweig, W. Buckley, R. Ackoff, K. Back, D. Easton, A.D. Hall, R.E. Eagen, E.J. Miller, A.K. Rice, T. Parsons made contributions to theorizing and operationalizing the systems view to management and organizations.
The classical and management science perspectives have tended to view the human organization as a closed system. This tendency has led to a disregard of organizational environment and organization’s dependency on it. Systems theory provides a relief from the limitations of more mechanistic approaches and a rationale for rejecting principles based on relatively closed-system thinking. According to Kast and Rosenzweig, general systems theory provides us with the macro paradigm for the study of social organizations. Traditional bureaucratic theory provided the first major macro view of organizations. Administrative management theorists concentrated on the development of macro principles of management which were applicable to all organizations. When these macro views seemed unable to explain the phenomena, attention turned to the micro level; more detailed analysis of components of the organization, thus the interest in human relations, technology, or structural dimensions. The systems approach returns us to the macro level with a new paradigm.
Actually, systems theory was not an invention. Even in the field of organization and management theory, systems views are not new. Chester Barnard, who is known as a neo-classicalist, used a basic systems framework. In defining the

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