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Book part
Publication date: 8 November 2011

Anders la Cour and Holger Højlund

Purpose – To analyze the emergence of new organizational forms in the Danish welfare sector.Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on Niklas Luhmann and Gunther Teubner…

Abstract

Purpose – To analyze the emergence of new organizational forms in the Danish welfare sector.

Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on Niklas Luhmann and Gunther Teubner, the research analyzes governmental documents, policy programs, action plans, and strategic documents.

Findings – A partnering structure has emerged with a new politics of voluntarism, complex forms of integration and new imaginary distinctions between voluntariness and public care. This can usefully be conceptualized as aspects of the stabilization of a “third-order system.” The research identified a number of different managerial strategies for involvement in the system.

Practical and social implications – Social welfare has become a mix of public and civil society values and norms, and extensive resources have been invested from both governmental and nongovernmental sides to build up shared competences for the new forms of partnering-based organization. However, to act according to the new principles of partnering, at the strategic and managerial level, the voluntary organizations have to behave in a schizophrenic manner – as both individual organizations and cooperational partners within the system.

Research implications – The concept of “third-order system” is especially useful in analyzing mixed forms of management in the welfare sector.

Originality – Different forms of radical organizational analysis are combined to develop a notion of “third-order system” in the welfare sector.

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1999

Allan K. Beavis

Self‐referential reflection inevitably reveals paradox. For some, paradox is a fruitful metaphor; for me, it raises problems that have epistemological implications…

Abstract

Self‐referential reflection inevitably reveals paradox. For some, paradox is a fruitful metaphor; for me, it raises problems that have epistemological implications. Traditionally paradox has been avoided by the problematic means of removing the observer from the domain of observation. Luhmann’s theory of autopoietic social systems offers an alternative manner of dealing with paradox. Such systems observe the self‐reference resulting from including an observer within the domain of observation and in their recursively closed operations combine other‐reference with every self‐reference. In this way, paradox is able to be "unfolded" in the operational moment. Luhmann’s social systems require, however, a radically different view of the place of the individual in society from that of traditional social theory – he or she does not belong!Communications are the elementary units for the social processing of meaning. This requires a radical revision of our concept of communication: it is communication that reproduces communication, not individuals.

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Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 37 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Abstract

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The Systemic Approach in Sociology and Niklas Luhmann: Expectations, Discussions, Doubts
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-032-5

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1995

Felix Geyer

Summarizes some of the important concepts and developments in cybernetics and general systems theory, especially during the last two decades. Shows how they can indeed be…

Abstract

Summarizes some of the important concepts and developments in cybernetics and general systems theory, especially during the last two decades. Shows how they can indeed be a challenge to sociological thinking. Cybernetics is used here as an umbrella term for a great variety of related disciplines: general systems theory, information theory, system dynamics, dynamic systems theory, including catastrophe theory, chaos theory. Also considers the emerging “science of complexity”, which includes neural networks, artificial intelligence and artificial life, and discusses the methodological drawbacks of second‐order cybernetics.

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Kybernetes, vol. 24 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2004

Werner Schuhmann

This paper offers a senior manager's reflections on experiences with the viable system model (VSM) in different situations of its application. These reflections are based…

Abstract

This paper offers a senior manager's reflections on experiences with the viable system model (VSM) in different situations of its application. These reflections are based on second‐order observation; that is on observing the forms of first‐order distinctions. Recently, systems thinking developed by Niklas Luhmann serves as an epistemological background. The VSM is recognized as a valuable tool to study and to change organizations, however, its “upgrade” is recommended in the light of insights, such as the protologic of distinctions or the more consistent realization of systems properties, such as operational closure and self‐reference.

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Kybernetes, vol. 33 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2005

Alexander T. Nicolai and Heinke Röbken

There is little consensus among academics on how to treat management fashions. The aim of this paper is to point out how management scientists have previously dealt with…

Abstract

Purpose

There is little consensus among academics on how to treat management fashions. The aim of this paper is to point out how management scientists have previously dealt with consulting concepts and which ways of dealing with them seem to be appropriate.

Design/methodology/approach

The debate surrounding management fashions alludes to the topic, how academia demarks its borders. Thus, a concept is required with which management studies and practice can be described as distinct entities in order to juxtapose the two spheres. This is done by applying Niklas Luhmann's systems theory to the realm of management studies.

Findings

The development of academia's attitude toward consulting concepts can be subdivided into three different phases: management academics considered consulting concepts as quasi‐scientific element; these concepts were then interpreted as a “foreign body”: and, finally, they were an object of scientific reflection. The last phase includes a transformation that has started only recently. From the perspective of the theory of self‐referential systems this change can be described as a sound development and it seems unlikely that academic approaches and consulting concepts will converge. In this perspective the non‐academic character of such consultancy‐concepts becomes evident‐just like their hidden usefulness.

Originality/value

Provides insights on how management scientists deal appropriately with consulting concepts. The change in attitude towards fashionable management concepts provides information not only about the consultancy concepts, but also about an altered self‐conception of management studies.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 18 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

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Article
Publication date: 4 November 2013

Stewart Raymond Lawrence, Vida Botes, Eva Collins and Juliet Roper

The purpose of this paper is to argue that it is time for change in the way the paper teach, theories and practice accounting. Traditional accounting practice constructs…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to argue that it is time for change in the way the paper teach, theories and practice accounting. Traditional accounting practice constructs the identity of the accountable entity as purely self-interested. Yet, there is evidence that firms do engage in broader activities. This paper aims to explain and illustrate that there are groups of firms that engage in socially responsible activities, yet their accounting systems still assume autopoietic behavior. Accounting should resonate with social expectations, but at present it does not.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature concerning theories of biological autopoiesis and social equivalents are reviewed. They are related to accounting practices, and to concepts of open and closed systems. The theories are related to survey results of socially responsible activities practiced by firms. National surveys undertaken in New Zealand at three-year intervals are the basis of the empirical content of the paper.

Findings

There is evidence that firms behave socially and environmentally responsibly. Yet accounting practice does not encourage such behaviour. Accounting practice has to be able to construct the identity of the accountable entity so that it pursues more than its own self-interest, and resonate with societal expectations.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is unconventional. It challenges extant practice. Its theoretical content may not appeal to many traditional accountants.

Originality/value

The theory and empirics are original. The theory of autopoiesis is illustrated through survey evidence of business practices.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1999

Guohua Bai and Lars‐Åke Lindberg

A principal problem of information systems (IS) development today is how to integrate the work activity and social context of users into the IS which is being designed…

Abstract

A principal problem of information systems (IS) development today is how to integrate the work activity and social context of users into the IS which is being designed. This paper aims to delineate a sociocybernetic approach which enlightens the relationship between IS design activity, use activity, and the embedded social context. First and second order cybernetics are employed as a general skeleton or structure for conducting the sociocybernetic approach. Approaches from social autopoiesis theory and activity theory are introduced respectively to provide the skeleton of cybernetics with flesh and blood elements of real problems. An emerging conceptual body resulting from an organic integration of the cybernetic structure and social‐psychological elements which demonstrates the relationship between IS design activity, use activity, and embedded social context is presented.

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Kybernetes, vol. 28 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1992

Connie Bullis and Hollis Glaser

Describes and positions ecofeminism as a critical voice inpostmodern organizational theory. Ecofeminism, because of itsconnections with spirituality, feminism, and…

Abstract

Describes and positions ecofeminism as a critical voice in postmodern organizational theory. Ecofeminism, because of its connections with spirituality, feminism, and ecology, provides an alternative critique of modernist organizational discourse. Specifically, positions ecofeminism as an antagonistic discourse which should help to define and display limits of bureaucratic discourse. Provides some ecofeminist change strategies.

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Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 5 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2017

Maurice Yolles and Davide Di Fatta

Cultural agency theory (CAT) generates higher simplex through principles of recursion, and, in this way, it is able to create a potential for the generation of families of…

Abstract

Purpose

Cultural agency theory (CAT) generates higher simplex through principles of recursion, and, in this way, it is able to create a potential for the generation of families of new paradigms in different fields. Characterised by its interdisciplinary nature, CAT’s origins have a heterogeneous nature related to different disciplines and research fields. With this in mind, the present manuscript aims to shed light on the antecedents of CAT, especially emphasising the role of Schwarz’s studies as a feel rouge in the evolution of this theory.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a systematic review of the previous literature, this paper highlights the multidisciplinary nature of CAT, mapping the multifaceted framework of its antecedents.

Findings

The results are summarised in a conceptual map that does not constitute a point of arrival, but rather a starting point: consolidating the current state, this paper also provides new insights for further studies.

Research limitations/implications

This manuscript still remains a theoretical point of view. Further studies are required to apply this study’s reasoning.

Originality/value

From a theoretical point of view, this paper achieves a new and original cornerstone about the previous studies on CAT; from a practical viewpoint, this paper gets an input for further implications. While these theories were originally setup for cognitive processes, this paper suggests extensions to model a complex adaptive system framework for management and marketing studies.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 46 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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