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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2011

Jan Achterbergh and Dirk Vriens

The purpose of this paper is to show how the viable system model (VSM) and de Sitter's design theory can complement each other in the context of the diagnosis and design…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show how the viable system model (VSM) and de Sitter's design theory can complement each other in the context of the diagnosis and design of viable organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

Key concepts from Beer's model and de Sitter's design theory are introduced and analyzed in order to show how they relate.

Findings

The VSM provides insight into the related systems necessary and sufficient for viability. As such, it specifies criteria supporting the diagnosis and design of organizational infrastructures, i.e. of organizational structures, HR systems, and technology. However, it does not explicitly conceptualize and provide a detailed heuristic for the design of organizational structures. De Sitter's theory fills in this gap.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates how, based on a rudimentary model of organizational viability, de Sitter's design theory positively addresses the question of how to diagnose and design organizational structures that add to the viability of organizations.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 40 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 3 August 2012

Ralph Badinelli, Sergio Barile, Irene Ng, Francesco Polese, Marialuisa Saviano and Primiano Di Nauta

The purpose of this paper is to highlight how systems thinking contributes to decision making in uncertain contexts that are characteristic of service systems. Based on…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to highlight how systems thinking contributes to decision making in uncertain contexts that are characteristic of service systems. Based on the assumption that service systems face complex conditions, the paper posits that systems thinking may support the understanding of key issues in service management.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper proposes an interpretation of complexity in the context of service systems, which highlights the perspective change that occurs when a systems approach is adopted. The offered conceptual perspective is then brought to an operational level, in spite of the complexity of the decisions driving a viable system, by modelling a service system as a network of agents, resources, processes and decisions through the use of fuzzy logic. The paper reviews service management research streams, and takes a deeper look at the concepts of service systems and complex service systems. The paper then proceeds to discuss how systems thinking contributes to service management by proposing a systems interpretation of complexity.

Findings

Service management theories and models may be enhanced by integrating prevailing approaches, based on a quantitative and mechanistic view of service systems dynamics, with systems thinking‐based meta‐models that can be used in better understanding service exchanges. The findings of the paper also show how the integration of an engineering approach can be insightful to the understanding of service systems; adopting a Viable Systems Approach (VSA) as a meta‐model can be useful in fully comprehending market behaviour in uncertain conditions.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper lies in exploring the contribution of systems thinking, in particular of the Viable Systems Approach (VSA), to service management and decision making.

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 June 2011

Mahmood Khosrowjerdi

This paper aims to design a viable model for a scholarly communication system.

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to design a viable model for a scholarly communication system.

Design/methodology/approach

Stafford Beer's viable system model (VSM) is an exceptionally insightful analysis tool which has been applied in different fields. This paper illustrates the usefulness of Beer's model as a tool for anticipating, planning, and implementing large‐scale development in the scientific communication domain. Following the Beer thinking of organisational structure and the usefulness of VSM in knowledge management stated by some researchers, a viable scientific communication model (VSCM) was designed.

Findings

The paper has developed a viable scientific communication model which relates personal knowledge about a scientific communication system with Beer's viability thinking.

Research limitations/implications

The designed model is fairly conceptual.

Originality/value

Compared with the earlier models, it seems that the suggested model is not dependent on context, time, and scale. This model may be used in many contexts because the functions and the operations of scholarly communication are unique. This model is viable and can update itself over a period of years. New elements of scholarly communication and the Web 2.0 platforms have also been incorporated into the model.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 July 2018

Amin Vahidi, Alireza Aliahmadi and Ebrahim Teimoury

This paper reviews the underpinning principles and scientific trends of cybernetics and the viable system model (VSM). Therefore, this paper aims to guide authors and…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper reviews the underpinning principles and scientific trends of cybernetics and the viable system model (VSM). Therefore, this paper aims to guide authors and managers active in management cybernetics and to inform them about the past, current and future trends in this discipline.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper adopts both qualitative and quantitative methods. First, a descriptive and qualitative approach is used to review and analyze management cybernetics historical trends. Then, a frequency analysis (quantitative) is conducted on the 1,000 first publications in the field.

Findings

The cybernetics was emerged in the Josiah Macy conference in 1946. Then, Wiener introduced the field of cybernetics and Ashby, Von Foerster and McCulloch developed this concept as a discipline. The Management cybernetics field that was introduced by Beer is a combination of system, control and management sciences. Beer presented VSM as an operational model in this area. Analyzing the 1,000 top-ranked publications shows that the introduction of this field reached maturity and further development became relatively mature. Moreover, based on the analyzed trends, VSM model application can now be strongly attractive. In this paper, the main journals, authors and research trends are analyzed. The main application area of this model is in the IT field and large-scale organizations.

Practical implications

The present paper’s implication for practitioners and researchers is guiding authors and managers to most appropriate studies in the field, so that they can produce and use the most efficient studies in this field.

Social implications

The fields of IT, Policy-Making, Production, Social Issues, Service industry, Software developers, etc., are some of this paper’s implications for industry and society.

Originality/value

In this paper, the steps of VSM development are investigated. Then, recent trends (classifications, authors, journals and topics analysis) are surveyed by analyzing the top 1,000 publications in this field. This paper would help researchers find more appropriate research fields. In addition, it helps practitioners find the optimum solutions based on management cybernetics for their problems among vast numbers of publications.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 48 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 September 2018

Sahar Saeed Rezk and Shahinaz Gamal

Viable system model (VSM) is a powerful tool mainly used to describe, solve and control systems’ complex problems autonomously. It enables systems to be flexible so that…

Abstract

Purpose

Viable system model (VSM) is a powerful tool mainly used to describe, solve and control systems’ complex problems autonomously. It enables systems to be flexible so that they can survive by rapidly responding and adapting their behaviors to any expected or even unexpected changes in the surrounding environment. This study aims to provide a literature review of the VSM as a conceptual framework for designing viable systems, and its applications in the field of higher education (HE).

Design/methodology/approach

The review is based on explaining “What is organizational cybernetics?”, clarifying the principles of the VSM as a rational model for designing viable organizations, discussing its drawbacks and the extended VSM, and then presenting a literature review of VSM applications in HE based on papers mainly published from 1993 to 2017.

Findings

Although there are many contributions provided by applying the VSM in HE, the previous developed models used Beer’s framework with its drawbacks without referring to some important factors neglected within it which are discussed in this review.

Originality/value

The study presents a summary of previous research on this topic and clarifies the essential issues needed to be addressed to design viable systems. Based on the gaps identified in the literature, some issues have been emphasized to be addressed in future research.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 48 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 April 2021

Sahar Saeed Rezk and Shahinaz Gamal

The purpose of this study is to use the power of organization cybernetics (OC) to design a flexible viable academic department that is at the risk of losing its viability…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to use the power of organization cybernetics (OC) to design a flexible viable academic department that is at the risk of losing its viability because of the complexity of the educational environment.

Design/methodology/approach

The proposed framework is developed based on Beer’s OC and the viable system model (VSM). This study adopts the guidelines for applying the VSM described by Stafford Beer and José Pérez Ríos.

Findings

The framework presents a comprehensive explanation of the essential functions of a viable academic department. In addition, it determines the basis for an inclusive redesign that can be used to maintain the department’s identity and viability as well.

Originality/value

Although there are many studies applying the framework of the VSM, in an educational context, most of them limited its usage to the evaluation of the viability of academic departments. They did not use the power of OC to design for systemic viability. Accordingly, the application of OC and the VSM, for the sake of designing a viable academic department, can be considered as highly original.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 51 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 11 May 2010

Pekka Huovinen

An issue of managing a business (unit) as a whole successfully is perceived to belong to the fundamental issues within strategic management. This paper proposes that a…

Abstract

An issue of managing a business (unit) as a whole successfully is perceived to belong to the fundamental issues within strategic management. This paper proposes that a business unit can be managed successfully in short and longer term in its focal contexts as a set of three recursive, competence-based, and process-based systems. Many elements of Stafford Beer's (1985) viable system model along the key competence-based theoretical bases are applied to this system design task. The outcome is an ideal, recursive template for advancing competence-based business management (CBBM) and its conceptual modeling. It is assumed that it is possible to design a business unit as a viable system that is capable of sustaining a separate existence at only three levels of hierarchy, as part of single or multi-business firms. Business-process models and their redesign processes are chosen as the 2nd-order, focal system which produces a business unit's competitiveness and solves longitudinal CBBM problems. One level of recursion down includes a unit's value creating, capturing, releveraging, and respective processes that enable to solve cross-sectional problems. One level of recursion up includes a unit's existential foresights and their crafting processes that solve existential problems. Recursivity is designed inside each system in terms of three kinds of subsystems for (a) primary value releveraging, process-model redesign, and business-foresight crafting, (b) the management of varieties in releveraging, modeling, and foreseeing, and (c) the monitoring and probing of all three systems. Systemic competences are incorporated inside respective systems. Such competences possess three flexibilities of absorption, attenuation, and amplification. At each level of recursion, a competence-based process is a unit of conceptual modeling of CBBM. A business unit is defined as a set of its purposeful processes. No thing or one is left outside them. Viability is ensured by real-time interaction and the 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-order feedback loops between three systems. Overall, the suggested, recursive, 3-system template is intended to serve future, compatible modeling efforts among interested, pioneering firms, professional CBBM modelers, scholars, and alike. Its novelty is produced by choosing and designing the CBBM modeling as the 2nd-order system-in-focus with its two recursions, by designing and using systemic, competence-based processes as the units of conceptualization, and by choosing and drawing the figures to illustrate the 3-system template in the ways that allow also business managers comprehend and apply the suggested template in practice.

Details

A Focussed Issue on Identifying, Building, and Linking Competences
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-990-9

Article
Publication date: 19 June 2007

Allenna Leonard

The purpose of this paper is to suggest symbiosis could be a metaphor for finding ways to help countries that are challenged to become economically and socially viable

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to suggest symbiosis could be a metaphor for finding ways to help countries that are challenged to become economically and socially viable. Beer's viable system model (VSM), which also has biological roots could be applied to look for gaps in the conditions for viability and to seek to fill them through collaborative arrangements.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a conceptual paper suggesting various symbiotic processes in biology could inform actions in the social environment.

Findings

Concepts from biological and environmental sciences can be applied to social conditions. The viable system model provides a framework for such applications.

Research limitations/implications

This paper presents general ideas and some examples of possibilities for symbiotic collaboration. Opportunities for symbiosis to be applied to the social arena would emerge through exploration of local conditions.

Practical implications

Much could be accomplished at various scales through imaginative collaboration. The natural world provides models and metaphors to stimulate thinking about collaboration.

Originality/value

The author suggests that the phenomenon of symbiosis in the natural world could provide useful concepts to apply to situations where countries and regions that are not viable or viable enough in the global marketplace. The VSM is discussed regarding a framework to integrate opportunities for collaboration.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 36 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 27 October 2014

Pekka Huovinen

The aim of this paper is to advance applied theoretical knowledge on international business (IB) ideation by designing the managing of such ideation as three recursive…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to advance applied theoretical knowledge on international business (IB) ideation by designing the managing of such ideation as three recursive, multi-competence-enabled systems.

Methodology/approach

The core principles of Beer’s (1985) Viable System Model are adopted for this system design task. The Viable System Model consists of five interacting sub-systems that can support a viable IB unit.

Findings

The contribution of this design of the three recursive, multi-competence-enabled systems will be three novel pieces of the applied theoretical knowledge about recursivity and competences that advance the management of an IB unit as a whole and in particular that of IB ideation.

Research implications

For future research, I initially propose that the IB ideation (unit) is being managed the more successfully within its focal contexts, the more extensively the IB ideation is designed as a set of three recursive systems enabled by respective multi-competences. Moreover, the 3-system design may serve as the frame of reference for those compatible theorization initiatives vis-à-vis viable IB ideation management that interested competence-based management scholars will conduct in the future.

Practical implications

I put forth the three templates (coupled with Functions 2–3) to facilitate the enhancement of the IB ideation practices among leading, innovative firms and especially by the pioneering management of IB (ideation) units.

Details

A Focused Issue on Building New Competences in Dynamic Environments
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-274-6

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 August 2006

José Pérez Ríos

This paper attempts to show how the new communication and information technologies and the internet in particular can help in the design of viable organizations.

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper attempts to show how the new communication and information technologies and the internet in particular can help in the design of viable organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a set of specific software tools based on internet, created for the purpose as given above. The tools are bundled in two packages. The VDMod package supports the application of Beer's viable system model (VSM) and the inclusion of system dynanics simulation models into the VSM model, as well as easy access to other tools such as team syntegrity. The SystemsNet package allows the members of the systems community to communicate with each other and gain swift access to these tools through the internet.

Findings

Communication and information technologies are enablers which help in the design of viable organizations by means of internet‐based software tools. They make the application of systemic approaches such as Beer's VSM and its combined use with System Dynamics (SD), or other methodologies and tools, easier and more readily accessible.

Research limitations/implications

The paper refers mainly to Organizational Cybernetics and SD and does not take into consideration all other systems‐thinking methodologies.

Practical implications

This paper reveals the possibility of very easy access to software tools for applying the VSM and its combined use with SD as well as facilitating communication among systems‐thinking field members.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the design of more viable organizations by providing researchers and practitioners of Organizational Cybernetics with the requisite software tools.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 35 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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