Business organizations involve complex interactions of economic and social forces. We observe and analyze organizations using a combination of economics, ethics, sociology and systems theory.

Systems Thinking

Lecture Notes

Case Studies

Credit Card Loss
Mobile Charge

Recommended Reading


John Gall, Systemantics: The Underground Text of Systems Lore - How Systems Really Work and How They Fail (Second Edition, General Systemantics Press, Ann Arbor, 1986) ISBN 9780961825102
Nano McCaughan & Barry Palmer, Systems Thinking for Harrassed Managers (Karnac)
Barry Oshry, Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life (Berrett Koehler)
Three easy introductions -- each packed with insight, but very different in style. McCaughan and Palmer present things clearly and simply; Oshry is flamboyant and American; and Gall makes it humorous.

General Systems Theory

Russell L. Ackoff & Fred E. Emery, On Purposeful Systems (Tavistock)
C West Churchman, The Systems Approach and its Enemies
Elliot Jaques: Requisite Organization: The CEO’s Guide to Creative Structure and Leadership (Cason Hall & Co)
Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (Century Business)
Geoffrey Vickers, Human Systems are Different (Harper & Row)
Gerald Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 1: Systems Thinking (Dorset House)
Information on Complexity theme
Principia Cybernetica
Self-Organizing Systems FAQ for Usenet group comp.theory.self-org-sys compiled by Chris Lucas
American Society for Cybernetics - Concepts

Complexity, Chaos and Catastrophe

Arthur Battram, Navigating Complexity: The Essential Guide to Complexity Theory in Business and Management (Industrial Society)
Stephen Guasatello, Managing Emergent Phenomena: Nonlinear Dynamics in Work Organizations (Lawrence Erlbaum)
Roger Lewin, Complexity: Life at the edge of chaos (Dent)

Viable Systems Model

Stafford Beer, Platform for Change (Wiley), Brain of the Firm (Wiley)
Raul Espejo & Roger Harriden (eds), The Viable Systems Model (Wiley)
Cavendish Software paper on Viable Systems Model (pdf)
Jon Walker guide to Viable Systems Model (html)

All materials developed by Aidan Ward and Richard Veryard. We taught these modules as part of a Business Computing degree at City University between 2001 and 2005. Copyright © 2001-2005 Aidan Ward and Richard Veryard. All rights reserved.