Cybernetically sound organizational structures I: de Sitter's design theory

Dirk Vriens (Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Jan Achterbergh (Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

Kybernetes

ISSN: 0368-492X

Publication date: 3 May 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to use de Sitter's design theory to show how organizational structures can be designed so as to attenuate organizational disturbances and amplify regulatory potential. It is argued that organizational structures with low values on so‐called design‐parameters are themselves no source of disturbances and have the required built‐in regulatory potential.

Design/methodology/approach

Key concepts from de Sitter's design theory are introduced and used to show how structures can attenuate disturbances and amplify regulatory potential.

Findings

The analysis in this paper deepens our understanding of the role of organizational structures for dealing with organizational complexity, and of the design parameters that should be manipulated to achieve structural attenuation and amplification.

Practical implications

Having a structure permitting organizations to attenuate and amplify is a crucial condition for organizational viability. This paper provides guidelines for the design of such structures.

Originality/value

This is one of a limited number of studies that makes apparent how general insights from (management) cybernetic (e.g. viability, attenuation and amplification) may be realized in organizations by their structural design.

Keywords

Citation

Vriens, D. and Achterbergh, J. (2011), "Cybernetically sound organizational structures I: de Sitter's design theory", Kybernetes, Vol. 40 No. 3/4, pp. 405-424. https://doi.org/10.1108/03684921111133656

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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