This book develops a cybernetic theory of the organization as a complex autonomous and self- organizing, self-producing and self-creating social community, and in so doing it will set the scene to discuss a variety of aspects of organizational and social processes and forms that arise from a systemic view. It begins by creating a philosophical foundation, it develops a viable systems approach that proceeds to cover a whole range of topics in a coherent and integrated way that are today seen to be important to social communities. Fundamentally developing as a knowledge management text, topics covered include community mission, purposes, interests, structure, politics, ethics, control, communications, management and conflict processes. It will also deliver an appreciation of the nature and use of information, knowledge and intelligence to assist the management of social communities.
Series Editors’ Introduction
We are pleased to introduce to you the second volume in the Managing the Complex series. Whereas volume one, like most volumes planned for this series, comprised chapters contributed by a number of different authors, some from quite different traditions, this second volume was composed by a single author, Maurice Yolles. Not only does the singular authorship distinguish this volume from past and future volumes, but the depth and breadth of the analysis provided is quite staggering – this volume represents a truly impressive achievement.
In this volume Maurice attempts to develop a comprehensive theory of social collectives as complex systems. Not only has he utilized ideas and frameworks already familiar to complex systems researchers, but he has also incorporated other perspectives (such as third order cybernetics, viable systems theory and social constructivism, as a few examples) some of which the reader may not already be aware of, and some of which the reader may be surprised to learn are not disparate and disconnected. This pluralistic synthesis results in a text that not only contains a thorough review of the existing literature and its various interconnections (which is of considerable value in itself), but also a wealth of new and original insights – more than one would usually expect from a single volume.
The series editors’ own research highlights the importance of adopting a critically pluralist position in any effort to understand complex systems, and the unlikelihood of any single overarching framework of being able to ‘contain’ complex systems. However, the ‘story’ Yolles tells of organizations as complex systems does at times seem so convincing that one might find oneself beginning to question the impossibility of constructing such an all-embracing framework – maybe ‘plurality’ can be effectively abstracted/transformed into a ‘meta-singularity’.
We are very grateful to Maurice for approaching us and allowing us to include his tour de force as part of the ongoing Managing the Complex series. We strongly believe that the motivated reader will discover an abundance of intellectual gems within these pages that will enrich both their own intellectual (internal) journey and their practical (external) attempts to make ‘social collectives’ thrive in every possible sense.
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