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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2013

Larry Richards

This paper aims to offer a personal reflection on the 2012 joint conference of the American Society for Cybernetics and the Bateson Idea Group, “An Ecology of Ideas”. The…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to offer a personal reflection on the 2012 joint conference of the American Society for Cybernetics and the Bateson Idea Group, “An Ecology of Ideas”. The intent is to raise awareness, through examples, of ideas – and their associated ways of thinking – that the author tends to take for granted in the work as systems theorists as well as in everyday life, yet ideas that confound the very social issues the conferees were trying to address.

Design/methodology/approach

The thoughts expressed arose after five days of listening to presentations and discussions, both formal and informal. The approach is conversational, with a desire to stimulate further conversation.

Findings

Certain versions of systems theory – whole systems, purposeful systems, systems theory as ideology – rely on ideas that although written about extensively in philosophical and socio-political works go unchallenged in everyday life. Three of these ideas – hierarchy, purpose, belief – are embedded in the way of talking about, and the language used to formulate, solutions to social problems. The suggestion is to avoid or suspend these ideas so that alternatives can be considered.

Originality/value

Idea avoidance offers those who study social change and/or those who participate in making it happen a way to escape the stuckness of ideas so ingrained in the everyday ways of thinking that they go unnoticed.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 42 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 7 May 2020

Tom Scholte

The purpose of this paper is to suggest a more central role for reflexive artistic practices in a clarified research agenda for second-order cybernetics (SOC). This is…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to suggest a more central role for reflexive artistic practices in a clarified research agenda for second-order cybernetics (SOC). This is offered as a way to assist the field in the further development of its theoretical/methodological “core” and, subsequently, enhance its impact on the world.

Design/methodology/approach

The argument begins by reviewing Karl Müller’s account of the failure of SOC to emerge as a mainstream endeavor. Then, Müller’s account is recontextualized within recent developments in SOC that are traced through the Design Cybernetics movement inspired by Ranulph Glanville. This alternate narrative frames a supposedly moribund period as a phase of continuing refinement of the field’s focus upon its “proper object of study,” namely, the observer’s mentation of/about their mentation. The implications of this renewed focus are then positioned within Larry Richard’s vision of the cybernetician, not as “scientist” per se but rather as a “craftsperson in and with time” capable of productively varying the dynamics of their daily interactions. Having centered widespread capacity building for this “craft” as a proposed research agenda for a new phase of SOC, the paper concludes by pointing to the unique and necessary role to be played by the arts in this endeavor. Personal reflections upon the author’s own artistic and theoretical activities are included throughout.

Findings

The development and application of artistic methods for the enhancement of individual capacity for second-order observation is consistent with the purpose of SOC, namely, “to explain the observer to himself.” Therefore, it is in the field’s interest to more fulsomely embrace non-scientific, arts-based forms of research.

Research limitations/implications

In a truly reflexive/recursive fashion, the very idea that first-person, arts-based narratives are seen, from a mainstream scientific point of view, as an insufficiently rigorous form of research is, itself, a research limitation. This highlights, perhaps ironically, the need for cybernetics to continue to pursue its own independent definitions and standards of research beyond the boundaries of mainstream science rather than limiting its own modes of inquiry in the name of “scientific legitimacy.”

Practical implications

A general uptake of the view presented here would expand the horizon of what might be considered legitimate, rigorous and valuable research in the field.

Social implications

The view presented here implies that many valuable contributions that SOC can make to society take place beyond the constraints of academic publication and within the realm of personal growth and social development.

Originality/value

The very clearly defined and “refocused” vision of SOC in this paper can be of substantial utility in developing a more robust, distinctive and concrete research agenda across this field.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 49 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Larry Richards

The purpose of this paper is to present a case for a change of educational system, rather than a change in the current system. A rudimentary framework for an alternative…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a case for a change of educational system, rather than a change in the current system. A rudimentary framework for an alternative educational system is proposed.

Design/methodology/approach

Cybernetic and educational literature supports an alternative approach to education. Design principles are identified for an alternative system.

Findings

For the desirable integration of curricular and pedagogical principles to be realized in an educational system, a non-hierarchical organizational structure is required. The icosahedral structure that embeds Stafford Beer's syntegration process provides such a default structure. Such a structure would be subversive in the current society.

Social implications

The implementation of the proposed system of schools could transform society by offering an alternative way of thinking about the structure of organizations like schools, as well as political and economic organizations. In so doing, fully participative democratic processes could be realized and sustained.

Originality/value

The use of the icosahedral structure as a framework for creating a system of schools world-wide is new and has value for anyone contemplating alternative educational systems.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 February 2020

Judith Lombardi

Herbert Brün was a composer of many things including electronic and computer music. His compositions were, by design, nested in his passions for designing a new society …

Abstract

Purpose

Herbert Brün was a composer of many things including electronic and computer music. His compositions were, by design, nested in his passions for designing a new society – without violence. In this article, the author attempts to address several of Brün’s concepts relevant to his desire for social change. This paper was stimulated by a panel discussion about Brün at the 2018 American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) conference “Framing a Reality and How It Matters in a Shared World.”

Design/methodology/approach

Herbert Brün nested his communication in what he labeled “anticommunication,” which requires a listener to generate new ways of listening. As a video ethnographer, the author had many opportunities to videotape Brün, beginning with our first encounter at the 1992 ASC Conference in Washington State. During the past several decades, the author has composed a variety of movies in which the video footage of Brün and others that the author associates with cybernetics is used. Excerpts from many of these movies are embedded in the links located in the references section of this paper.

Findings

Brün’s cybernetic formulations for designing social transformations explored in this paper include his ideas on floating hierarchies, anticommunication, his notions on a circularity of needs, peace as a need, articulating desires, composing as an element of daily life, and the retardation of decay.

Originality/value

It is the author’s desire that this paper encourages the reader to explore some of Herbert Brün’s formulations for designing social change and transformations.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 49 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Special Issue

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1984

ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CYBERNETICS (1982) This meeting, the theme of which was cybernetics and education, was held in Columbus (USA) from 18 to 21…

Abstract

ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CYBERNETICS (1982) This meeting, the theme of which was cybernetics and education, was held in Columbus (USA) from 18 to 21 October, 1982. It was sponsored by the Academy of Sciences and the State University of Ohio. Most of the participants were from the United States, but some came from Canada (4), United Kingdom (1), France (1).

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1999

Barbara F.H. Allen

The field of teaching English as a second or foreign language has become increasingly important at colleges and universities. Academic libraries must provide TESL students…

Abstract

The field of teaching English as a second or foreign language has become increasingly important at colleges and universities. Academic libraries must provide TESL students and professionals with an adequate selection of journals in the field. This annotated bibliography and summary chart of TESL‐related journals will aid collection development librarians in evaluating and building their collection, provide TESL students with an overview of available professional journals, and help TESL faculty and professionals identify journals in which to publish articles.

Details

Collection Building, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0160-4953

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2002

Joanne Procter and Martyn Richards

Defines the pester power phenomenon as the repeated delivery of unwanted requests, arguing however that this is not the main driving influence in purchasing behaviour…

Abstract

Defines the pester power phenomenon as the repeated delivery of unwanted requests, arguing however that this is not the main driving influence in purchasing behaviour. Shows instead that a large number of highly successful products, notably Harry Potter, became popular not through marketing but via word‐of‐mouth, and the staying power (or stickiness) of a product like Pokemon illustrates the importance of social learning. Recounts the experiment of Stanley Milgram’s chain letter, and the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, which shows the amount of connectedness in society. Relates this to diffusion research is central to word‐of‐mouth marketing, and also mentions viral marketing and coolhunting, both of which involve word‐of‐mouth.

Details

Young Consumers, vol. 3 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-3616

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Article
Publication date: 21 May 2010

John James Cater and Robert T. Justis

The purpose of this paper is to better understand the development and implementation of shared leadership in multi‐generational family firms. Shared leadership or family…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to better understand the development and implementation of shared leadership in multi‐generational family firms. Shared leadership or family top management teams involve multiple family members in the top management and ownership of family firms.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative case study approach was employed, using in‐depth interviews of the top managers of four family businesses. Each case was analyzed separately, and emergent themes found in each case; and then generalizations were made across the four cases in the cross‐case analysis.

Findings

Eight factors or conditions were examined that affect shared leadership in multi‐generational family firms according to the respondents – long‐term orientation, close communication and shared understanding, resistance to change, succession planning, failure to release control, reporting relationship confusion, increased decision time, and higher decision quality. The result of this study is the production of eight propositions to build theory concerning shared leadership, which is an under‐researched area for family business studies.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is rich in qualitative detail, but with all such case study research, its limitations regarding sample size are recognized.

Practical implications

This paper views shared leadership as a growing phenomenon that incumbent family business leaders should consider as a viable alternative to primogeniture or the choice of a single successor.

Originality/value

The study described in this paper is groundbreaking in that it examines shared leadership or the development and implementation of top management teams in family firms in depth and detail. The paper contributes a balanced view of the implementation of shared leadership in family firms, exploring both the positive and negative aspects.

Details

Management Research Review, vol. 33 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8269

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 8 January 2021

Jeremy Nicholls and Adam Richards

Abstract

Details

Generation Impact
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-929-9

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