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Organization as a System

In: Business and Management

Submitted By kdknightt
Words 2580
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Carter McNamara. Thinking About Organizations as Systems

A system is a collection of parts (or subsystems) integrated to accomplish an overall goal (a system of people is an organization). Systems have input, processes, outputs and outcomes, with ongoing feedback among these various parts. If one part of the system is removed, the nature of the system is changed.
Systems range from very simple to very complex. There are numerous types of systems. For example, there are biological systems (the heart, etc.), mechanical systems (thermostat, etc.), human/mechanical systems (riding a bicycle, etc.), ecological systems (predator/prey, etc.), and social systems (groups, supply and demand, friendship, etc.).
Complex systems, such as social systems, are comprised of numerous subsystems, as well. These subsystems are arranged in hierarchies, and integrated to accomplish the overall goal of the overall system. Each subsystem has its own boundaries of sorts, and includes various inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes geared to accomplish an overall goal for the subsystem. A pile of sand is not a system. If one removes a sand particle, you've still got a pile of sand. However, a functioning car is a system. Remove the carburetor and you've no longer got a working car.
It is important to look at organizations as systems because the effect of this systems theory in management is that writers, educators, consultants, etc. are helping managers to look at organizations from a broader perspective. Systems theory has brought a new perspective for managers to interpret patterns and events in their organizations. In the past, managers typically took one part and focused on that. Then they moved all attention to another part. The problem was that an organization could, e.g., have wonderful departments that operate well by themselves but don't integrate well together. Consequently,

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