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Article
Publication date: 27 April 2012

José Pérez Ríos, Xosé Lois Martínez Suárez and Iván Velasco Jiménez

The purpose of this paper is to present an example of the application of a framework, based on Beer's organizational cybernetics and viable system model, that allowed the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present an example of the application of a framework, based on Beer's organizational cybernetics and viable system model, that allowed the top management of a public university to design and implement university policy and actions related to the physical design of the various university campuses.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on organizational cybernetics concepts, an heuristic is used by the top management of a public university for designing the strategy and actions related to urban planning issues.

Findings

The paper outlines the process that helped the university's new top management to diagnose the situation at the beginning of its mandate and to design pertinent actions. This process starts by clarifying the university identity, purpose and boundaries and is followed by identifying the required structural levels. For each of them the key factors to be considered and actions to be taken are stated. The use of a Recursion Levels‐Key Factors Matrix helped to maintain a coherent and holistic view of the intervention.

Practical implications

This kind of framework can guide leaders of public and private organizations to apply cybernetic concepts to improve their strategic policies' design and actions.

Originality/value

The application of organizational cybernetics and the viable system model to urban planning‐related activities in universities is highly original. The framework here presented, together with the example of its application, can serve as a guide to leaders of other universities as well as other public or private organizations when coping with the complexity they have to face.

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Article
Publication date: 19 October 2010

José Pérez Ríos

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a framework, based on Beer's viable system model (VSM) that enables managers of public and private organizations to cope with the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a framework, based on Beer's viable system model (VSM) that enables managers of public and private organizations to cope with the complexities faced by their organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on concepts from organizational cybernetics (OC) an heuristic is elaborated for the design or diagnosis of any organization, from the point of view of its viability.

Findings

An outline of the process that enables managers to diagnose or design the organization they manage is formalized in a structured sequence which, starting with the clarification of an organization's identity, purpose and boundaries, guides the whole process of structure creation and the detailed diagnosis of all its structural components from the point of view of its viability. A taxonomy of frequent pathologies that affect organizations is also presented.

Practical implications

This kind of framework can guide managers to apply the cybernetic concepts for higher organizational performance, thereby overcoming the oft‐bemoaned difficulties in applying these concepts in practice.

Originality/value

The paper tries to fill the gap between the conceptual deep theoretical works in OC by Stafford Beer and other researchers, and the need of managers for a structured process that can guide their application. The framework presented tries to provide that kind of guide. It integrates different components within a single framework, which covers the creation of the general structure, the diagnosis of each particular organization within it, the evaluation of the degree of coherence between organizational levels, and a taxonomy of organizational pathologies to facilitate such a structuring. Another contribution is the introduction of the VSMod software, created precisely to facilitate the implementation of the VSM.

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2005

Louis H. Kauffman

Discusses the notion of eigenform as explicated by Heinz von Foerster wherein an object is seen to be a token for those behaviors that lend the object its apparent…

Abstract

Purpose

Discusses the notion of eigenform as explicated by Heinz von Foerster wherein an object is seen to be a token for those behaviors that lend the object its apparent stability in a changing world.

Design/methodology/approach

Describes von Foerster's model for eigenforms and recursions and puts this model in the context of mathematical recursions, fractals, set theory, logic, quantum mechanics, the lambda calculus of Church and Curry, and the categorical framework of fixed points of Lawvere.

Findings

Determines that iterating a transformation upon itself is seen to be a key to understanding the nature of objects and the relationship of an observer and the apparent world of the observer.

Originality/value

Contemplates the concept of recursion in the context of second‐order cybernetics.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 34 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 19 October 2010

Benjamin Gmür, Andreas Bartelt and Ramon Kissling

The paper's aim is to provide the reader with an example of the application of Beer's viable system model (VSM), to present the crucial steps of analyzing and improving a…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper's aim is to provide the reader with an example of the application of Beer's viable system model (VSM), to present the crucial steps of analyzing and improving a complex organization on the basis of Beer's approach, and thereby to demonstrate the value of viewing an organization cybernetically for managerial purposes.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on Beer's VSM, as a first step, a diagnosis of the underlying organizational subsystems of the Swiss Youth Hostel Association has been undertaken on the basis of interviews and an analysis of relevant written sources. Based on this evaluation of the organization's viability, suggestions for improvement have been derived in a second step.

Findings

Diagnosis shows that the VSM offers a useful, innovative, and effective reference framework for analyzing the organizational structure of an organization from a multidimensional, cybernetic perspective, on the strength of which managers can cope more efficiently and substantially with complexity.

Practical implications

The paper offers an example of the process of applying Beer's practicable framework to managerial tasks, helping them comprehend their organizations from a cybernetic view as viable systems, thus enabling them to deal with internal and external complexity more effectively and efficiently. It accordingly shows how diagnosis based on this framework can reveal organizational strength and weaknesses on the one hand and act as a makeshift for redesigning system structure on the other hand.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the practical application‐oriented understanding of Beer's VSM for managerial purposes by giving an example of how it applies to a complex organization, showing how a VSM‐based diagnosis reframed the perspectives of managers in the organization under study.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 39 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2013

Randolph Rach, Abdul‐Majid Wazwaz and Jun‐Sheng Duan

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new modification of the Adomian decomposition method for resolution of higher‐order inhomogeneous nonlinear initial value problems.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new modification of the Adomian decomposition method for resolution of higher‐order inhomogeneous nonlinear initial value problems.

Design/methodology/approach

First the authors review the standard Adomian decomposition scheme and the Adomian polynomials for solving nonlinear differential equations. Next, the advantages of Duan's new algorithms and subroutines for fast generation of the Adomian polynomials to high orders are discussed. Then algorithms are considered for the solution of a sequence of first‐, second‐, third‐ and fourth‐order inhomogeneous nonlinear initial value problems with constant system coefficients by the new modified recursion scheme in order to derive a systematic algorithm for the general case of higher‐order inhomogeneous nonlinear initial value problems.

Findings

The authors investigate seven expository examples of inhomogeneous nonlinear initial value problems: the exact solution was known in advance, in order to demonstrate the rapid convergence of the new approach, including first‐ through sixth‐order derivatives and quadratic, cubic, quartic and exponential nonlinear terms in the solution and a sextic nonlinearity in the first‐order derivative. The key difference between the various modified recursion schemes is the choice of the initial solution component, using different choices to partition and delay the subsequent parts through the recursion steps. The authors' new approach extends this concept.

Originality/value

The new modified decomposition method provides a significant advantage for computing the solution's Taylor expansion series, both systematically and rapidly, as demonstrated in the various expository examples.

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Article
Publication date: 14 January 2019

Omar Sacilotto Donaires, Luciana Oranges Cezarino, Adriana Cristina Ferreira Caldana and Lara Liboni

The concept of sustainability evokes a multiplicity of meanings, depending on the field. Some authors have criticized the concept for its vagueness. Notwithstanding this…

Abstract

Purpose

The concept of sustainability evokes a multiplicity of meanings, depending on the field. Some authors have criticized the concept for its vagueness. Notwithstanding this criticism, worldwide efforts to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are in progress and are expected to yield results by 2030. This paper aims to addresses two issues and make two primary contributions. First, the concept of sustainability is revisited to develop its integrative understanding. This concept is built on systems thinking – specifically, on the concepts of synergy, emergence, recursion and self-organization. Second, an approach is developed to help determine whether the efforts being made towards the SDGs can be expected to be effective (i.e., whether the world can hope to soon be a system that self-organizes towards sustainability).

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the assumption that the SDGs and their respective targets are systemically interrelated, the data on the progress towards the SDGs are correlated and the outcome is analysed.

Findings

The emerging pattern of correlations reflected the systemic coherence of the efforts as an indication of self-organization towards sustainability. This pattern also revealed that the efforts are still spotty and that the systemic synergy has not yet taken place. This correlation approach to Brazil is then applied. The data about Brazil’s progress towards the SDGs from the World Bank’s Word Development Indicators (WDI) database are gathered. The outcomes indicated that Brazil as a whole cannot yet be seen as self-organizing system that is evolving towards sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

To enable the calculation of the correlation matrix, the data series were not allowed to have missing values. Some of the WDI data series had many missing values and had to be eliminated. This unfortunately reduced the variability of the original data. In addition, the missing values in the remaining data series had to be calculated by means of interpolation or extrapolation. There are alternative algorithms to perform such functions. The impact of the interpolation and extrapolation of the missing values on the study, as well as the pros and cons of different algorithms, required investigation. It is important to remark that the WDI series was the only global and open data set that aligned with the SDGs.

Social implications

In Brazil, it is important to maintain the public policies that affect SDG 1-6, but it is necessary to develop policies geared towards SDG 12. Environmental goals also need more public policies (SDGs 14 and 15). To achieve this 2030 Agenda, much effort will be required for SDG 17, which is related to greater synergy through partnerships.

Originality/value

Three qualitatively distinct levels of efforts to sustainability are identified: individual, organizational and world activities. At the individual level, progress regarding sustainability depends on personal attitudes, including the willingness to abandon a self-centred lifestyle in favour of a more cooperative way of living and making decisions, and to embrace a new approach to ethics, which replaces self-interest by self-denial and self-sacrifice (de Raadt & de Raadt, 2014). At the organizational level, a paradox of the need to internalize environmental and social costs into generic strategies and the sustainability strategy that involves core businesses are challenges for systems working towards sustainability. When it comes to global level, in this paper, the authors tried to make a contribution to push forward the frontier of knowledge by proposing an approach to understand whether the progress made towards the SDGs in the past 25 years indicates that the world is, after all, organizing for sustainability (Schwaninger, 2015).

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 48 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 May 2010

Paul Hibbert, Christine Coupland and Robert MacIntosh

The paper seeks to support a better understanding of the types (or processes) of reflexivity which may be involved in the practice of organizational research, and the…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper seeks to support a better understanding of the types (or processes) of reflexivity which may be involved in the practice of organizational research, and the implications of reflexive practice for organizational researchers.

Design/methodology/approach

A characterization of reflexivity as a process is developed from extant research, in four steps. First, the principal dimensions of reflexivity – reflection and recursion – are identified and delineated. Second, recursion is shown to have two modes, active and passive. Third, reflection is shown to have both closed, self‐guided and open, relational modes. Fourth, through integrating the detailed characterizations of each of the dimensions, different types of reflexivity are identified and defined.

Findings

The paper shows how different types of reflexivity may be experienced sequentially, as a progressive process, by organizational researchers. Implications for research practice are derived from a consideration of this process.

Originality/value

The paper develops a novel conceptualization of reflexivity as a process with individual and relational aspects. This conceptualization supports important insights for the conduct and legitimation of reflexive research.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 6 November 2017

Lynnard Mondigo and Demelo Madrazo Lao

The purpose of this paper is to develop a web-based interactive learning object (ILO) of introductory Computer Science (CS) concept on recursion and compare two feedback…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop a web-based interactive learning object (ILO) of introductory Computer Science (CS) concept on recursion and compare two feedback methods in the learning assessment part.

Design/methodology/approach

Test driven development (TDD) approach was used to develop ILO. The authors adapted Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) standard instrument to evaluate ILO’s effectiveness as an e-learning tool. Three respondents, from a list of pre-identified prospective evaluators, were randomly chosen and served as raters for MERLOT, while 32 student-respondents coming from first-year Math and CS undergraduate majors were randomly assigned to each ILO version implementing either one of the two feedback methods.

Findings

ILO obtained mean ratings above 4 (in scale 1-5) in three MERLOT criteria, namely, potential effectiveness as teaching tool, ease of use, and quality of content, which is rated highest (mean=4.40, SD=0.53). The study also revealed that immediate feedback increases retention while delayed feedback improves generating new knowledge. Respondents who viewed the ILO implementing immediate feedback in their first session had statistically significantly higher scores (mean=8.25, SD=0.80) than those who viewed with delayed feedback (mean=7.63, SD=0.89). In their second session, the same observation was noted although with higher mean scores. These results give evidence that the developed ILO met standards in e-learning material and showed evidence of its effectiveness with preferably implementing immediate feedback.

Research limitations/implications

Although the developed ILO can now be used in school as supplementary learning material in teaching the concept of recursion in an introductory CS subject, a pilot testing of the web-based ILO using a larger sample of respondents to validate its effectiveness for online distance learning educational material can be pursued. Furthermore, in designing and creating an ILO, the provision of feedback during the assessment stage is necessary for effecting learning.

Originality/value

The study was a first to develop ILO for CS topic on recursion. The paper also compared which of two known feedback methods is best to implement in an ILO.

Details

Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2414-6994

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1991

J.D.R. de Raadt

The viability of a social system is dependent upon its ability to generate information and learn. This requires an appropriate arrangement of its information systems…

Abstract

The viability of a social system is dependent upon its ability to generate information and learn. This requires an appropriate arrangement of its information systems, incorporating two types of recursions and reflecting two methods of learning. The first method generates information; the second one invokes it from a higher organisational level. Notwithstanding these recursions, the system will not learn unless it is able to face a certain level of inclemency from its environment that compels it into a learning mode.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2013

Debora R. Hammond

The purpose of this paper is to explore the significance of recursive processes in the evolution of learning in both individuals and organisations, beginning with a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the significance of recursive processes in the evolution of learning in both individuals and organisations, beginning with a clarification of the distinction between recursion and other types of feedback, drawing on insights from Humberto Maturana and George Richardson.

Design/methodology/approach

Further work informing this inquiry includes Gregory Bateson on learning levels, Chris Argyris and Donald Schon on double loop learning, Peter Senge on organizational learning, and James G. Miller on the processing of matter/energy and information in living systems, at different levels of organization.

Findings

The paper provides an original synthesis of insights from Miller's living systems theory, in exploring the implications of Bateson's learning levels, as well as further insights from the work of Argyris, Schon and Senge, at cellular, individual, organisational, and global levels, to reinforce the need for a higher order, global level of learning.

Originality/value

Value in findings outlined above.

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