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System equivalence: the application of joint optimization

Marvin Washington (Marvin Washington is at the Department of Management and Organizations, University of Iowa, USA. E‐mail: marvin‐
Marla Hacker (Marla Hacker is at the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA. E‐mail:

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 1 December 2000



The concepts of joint optimization and socio‐technical systems have been in the literature for over 40 years. However, efforts to operationalize these concepts for managerial practice have not progressed at the same pace as the theory on joint optimization has advanced. This paper represents an effort to turn the theoretical concept of joint optimization into managerial practice by introducing the concept of system equivalence. In this paper system equivalence (the level at which all three systems (social, technical, and environmental) are mutually equivalent in value (is described to indicate how it should be used. This paper then discusses the usefulness of this concept for managerial practice.



Washington, M. and Hacker, M. (2000), "System equivalence: the application of joint optimization", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 18-24.




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