To explore the usefulness of the cybernetic approach to support development programs by offering a theoretical framework that helps us to re‐understand development and measuring systems.
The paper presents a summary of Beer's theory for organisational development and measuring systems, shows examples of application in design and implementation of socio‐economic development programs in Colombia, and uses them to explore the usefulness of the approach in this field.
Analysis of the reported examples shows a clear indication of the usefulness of Beer's approach to design and measure development programs. It reveals an important field for applied research that could benefit from further applications of the approach.
The experiences analysed here showed the strength or alliances between government, universities and development agencies, for applied research. It makes clear that more long‐term oriented projects are required to fully implement innovative approaches like the one described.
Applying a cybernetic approach in this field implies changing from top‐down to bottom‐up design; wider involvement of stakeholders to agree on critical measurements; changes from emphasis in technological and managerial improvements, to improvements in learning and self‐control tools for the developing communities.
Even if there has been agreement on the convenience of experimenting with more holistic approaches to socio‐economic development, few researchers show the potential of the cybernetic approach, as this paper does.
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