Appreciating the complexity of organizational processes

Raul Espejo (Syncho Ltd, Lincoln, UK World Organisation for Systems and Cybernetics, Lincoln, UK)
Daniel Kuropatwa (Buenos Aires, Argentina)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Publication date: 3 May 2011



The purpose of this paper is to discuss the evolution of a company in Argentina with the support of the viable system model (VSM) and the Viplan method. This company had had a cybernetic intervention in the 1980s and in 2002 went out of business. The authors' purpose was revisiting the company with the lenses of current organizational cybernetics to find new insights from its history.


The history was constructed by one of the authors, who was a key player in the company. He also obtained the views of other people who had worked in the company. These data were assessed interactively by the two authors using the VSM and the Viplan method.


Though a functional application of the VSM may be helpful to highlight communication and information requirements, it yields limited insights about viability. It is the assessment of relationships within the organization and with environmental agents that offers more valuable results.

Research limitations/implications

Often retrospective studies have limited value; it is easy to construct history to fit particular interests. However, the authors had very different backgrounds, one highly involved with the company's history, the other interested in clarifying the use of the VSM. The first wanted to provide an accurate history and the second insights to improve the application of the VSM.


The approach of the paper is focused on a particular and unique situation. Also the paper goes beyond the more traditional functional applications of the VSM. It is an application focused on people's relations and performance.



Espejo, R. and Kuropatwa, D. (2011), "Appreciating the complexity of organizational processes", Kybernetes, Vol. 40 No. 3/4, pp. 454-476.

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