Systems Theory Management | System Theory Approach | System Theory: Definitions, Contributions and Limitations

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Systems Theory Management | System Theory Approach | System Theory: Definitions, Contributions and Limitations

Systems Theory

The systems theory is an interdisciplinary scientific domain that views things as a unit. It is also trans- discipline as it serves diverse fields like engineering, biology, organization theory, sociology, and psychology, Actually, it looks at a set of objects or entities that are interrelated with one another in order to form a whole. There are two versions of systems theory: closed system (originated from physics) and open system (developed from biology). These “systems” are open to different environments and create synergy. The germinal thinkers of this theory are North Whitehead, Ludwig Von Bertalanffy, Anatol Rapoport, Kenneth Boulding, William Gray, etc.
In fact, a system is defined as ‘an organized or complex whole: a combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary whole. ‘ The theory provides a framework that visualizes internal and external environmental factors as an integrated whole. It recognizes the function of subsystems. This theory views an organization as an organic and open system composed of subsystems. These subsystems are interdependent and interactional kind. The model of systems theory to organizational management is presented in the figure.

The elements of systems theory are as mentioned below:

a. Subsystems:

The subsystem is an integral part of the entire system. The subsystem also has a set of elements that function within it. There a number of interdependent subsystems within a system that affects one another.

b. Flow of energy:

The types of inputs like information, manpower, materials, technology, money, etc are called energy. The organizational system has a flow of energy from the environment and transforms them into the real output. Such a transformation process is called throughput.

c. Synergy:

Synergy is the output produced too large more than the sum of the output of its parts (2+2=5). The elements and subsystems of an integrated system produce a synergy effect.

d. Goal orientation:

In reality, an organization is a system that comprises tasks, structure, people, and technology. It mobilizes such resources for the achievement of its goals.

e. Systems boundary:

The boundary differentiates each system in an environment from one another. A closed system is confined to a rigid boundary and an open system is held in a penetrable one.

f. Open or closed system

An open system suggests that an organization has interfaces with several external environmental systems. And a closed system has interfaces with only internal organizational systems.

g. Feedback

Feedback is produced from authorities or the external elements to the system. This helps the organizational systems for continuous improvement.

Difference between Open System and Closed System

Open System Closed System
1. The is such a system that continuously interfaces and interacts with its environment. This is a system in a state of being isolated from the environment.
2. The organizations of open system exist in the real world. Such systems are rarely found in present world.
3. Such systems are self organizing as they response to changing conditions. The closed system is non adaptive, self contained and self maintaining unit.
4. The open system perspective assumes that environment is dynamic. The closed system perspective assumes that environment is static.
5. Such system receives inputs and energy like; information, materials, manpower, technology, etc. from outside and delivers output to outside. Such system rarely obtains dynamic inputs from outside but delivers the output to outside.
Contributions of Systems Theory

The contributions of systems theory are as discussed below:

1. The trans-disciplinary endeavor of this theory is not restricted only to the hard sciences but also extended to the exploration of critical exploration of management functions.

2. It helps managers develop an understanding of how each element is affected by at least one other element in the system.

3. The theory also integrates all the elements and subgroups as a whole.

4. The theory encourages the development of teamwork, continuous learning, and exposure to the universal terminal accumulated knowledge and wisdom.

Limitations of Systems Theory

1. It is considered as an abstract approach and lacks universality in it.

2. There are no tools and techniques for the practical application of this theory.

3. The theory observes complex interrelationships among its constituent parts. This approach serves the witnessing phenomenon only as a compliment, not as an alternative.

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