Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Socio-Technical-Systems, Sustainable Work, Open Systems Theory

I’ve received news about an Aalto University course on  “Socio-Technical Systems Paradigm: History and Further Developments” [see pdf], led by Frans M. van Eijnatten (Eindhoven University of Technology) and Mari Kira (Academy Research Fellow at sustain.tkk.fi), scheduled  for September 27-28 in Espoo, Finland.

The course is associated with the Sustain Research Program that “focuses on creating sustainable work in contemporary working life”.  I also noticed a book on Creating sustainable work systems:  developing social sustainability, edited by Peter Docherty, Mari Kira and Abraham B. Shani (Taylor & Francis 2008) [preview at Google Books].

We would seem to be at the leading edge of research with this topic.  Since I’m active in the systems community, I was intrigued by a reference to an article in 2008 article in Systems Research and Behavioral Science by Mari Kira, and Frans M. van Eijnatten, “Socially sustainable work organizations: A chaordic systems approach”.

This 2008 article has led to a yet-to-be-printed (in 2010) SRBS research note by Merrelyn Emery, “Refutation of Kira & van Eijnatten’s critique of the Emery’s open systems theory” [available in early release].  She points out that the Emery variant of Open Systems Theory (OST) comes with a history of divergence in Social-Technical Systems (STS) thinking.  Emery cites continuing work with OST in a 2007 chapter by Emery and DeGuerre “Evolution of Open Systems Theory” [preview at Google Books in The change handbook:
the definitive resource on today’s best methods for engaging whole systems
, (Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, Steven Cady, editors)].

The Emery refutation is followed by a yet-to-be-printed (in 2010) SRBS research note by Mari Kira and Frans M. van Eijnatten, “Socially sustainable work organizations and systems thinking” [available in early release].  The coauthors thanked Emery for her criticism, and clarified some aspects of the original paper.

The foundations cited for research into sustainable work leads back to articles in a 2004 The Learning Organization special issue on “Chaordic systems thinking for learning organizations, guest edited by Frans M. van Eijnatten and Goran D. Putnik.

The research debate amongst these authors reflects evolution in the systems sciences from the heritage of the Tavistock Institute (circa 1941-1989) with Fred Emery and Eric Trist, and the newer interest in chaos and order by Dee Hock (circa 1991-2001) in the chaordic perspective with chaordic initiatives.

On a brief look at the articles, I’m interested in digging into them.  If I’m going to do the reading, I should seriously think about registering for the course.  (I was planning to be in Finland around that time, already).  Some alternatives that will require fewer air miles include web movies of lectures by Frans Eijnatten at videolectures.net.

P.S.  I hadn’t seen The Learning Organization journal before.  While I was there, I noticed a 2007 special issue on “The relevance of systems thinking and systems dynamics“.  The first article is by an acquaintance in the Ackoff community, Jamshid Gharajedaghi, with an article on “Systems thinking: a case for second-order-learning”.  Jamshid had helped me (both in his writing, and over the telephone) by clarifying some basic concepts when I was climbing the systems learning curve in 1998 with Steve Haeckel and the Adaptive Enterprise / Sense and Respond research.  Jamshid’s 2007 article seems to be a finalization of a draft that appeared on the Ackoff Center Weblog in 2004.

The change handbook:

the definitive resource on today’s best methods for engaging whole systems


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • RSS qoto.org/@daviding (Mastodon)

  • RSS on IngBrief

    • Goal, objective, ideal, pursuits (Ackoff & Emery, 1972)
      While Ackoff’s definitions of goals, objectives and ideals have been republished (and rewritten) multiple times, the 1972 definitions were derived from his original dissertation work.  Accordingly, in addition to the human-readable definitions, some mathematical notation is introduced. — begin paste — OUTCOMES 2.30. End (an immediate intended outcome) of a subject A in a particular […]
    • Pure Inquiring Systems: Antiteleology | The Design of Inquiring Systems | C. West Churchman | 1971
      The fifth way of knowing, as described by West Churchman, is a Singerian inquiring system. (This fifth way of knowing is more colloquially called Unbounded Systems Thinking in Mitroff and Linstone (1993)). The book On Purposeful Systems (Ackoff and Emery, 1972) was derived by Ackoff’s dissertation that was controversially coauthored with West Churchman. Purpose can […]
    • Process-Function Ecology, Wicked Problems, Ecological Evolution | Vasishth | Spanda J | 2015
      Understanding Process-Function Ecology by Ashwani Vasishth leads to luminaries in the systems sciences, including C. West Churchman, Eugene P. Odum and Timothy F.H. Allen.
    • The Innovation Delusion | Lee Vinsel, Andrew L. Russell | 2020
      As an irony, the 2020 book, The Innovation Delusion by #LeeVinsel @STS_News + #AndrewLRussell @RussellProf shouldn’t be seen as an innovation, but an encouragement to join @The_Maintainers where an ongoing thought network can continue. The subtitle “How Our Obsession with the New has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most” recognizes actual innovation, as distinct from […]
    • Republishing on Facebook as “good for the world” or “bad for the world” (NY Times, 2020/11/24)
      An online social network reproduces content partially based on algorithms, and partially based on the judgements made by human beings. Either may be viewed as positive or negative. > The trade-offs came into focus this month [November 2020], when Facebook engineers and data scientists posted the results of a series of experiments called “P(Bad for […]
    • 1969, 1981 Emery, System Thinking: Selected Readings
      Social Systems Science graduate students in 1970s-1980s with #RussellAckoff, #EricTrist + #HasanOzbehkhan at U. Pennsylvania Wharton School were assigned the Penguin paperback #SystemsThinking reader edited by #FredEEmery, with updated editions evolving contents.
  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • RSS on daviding.com

    • 2021/08 Moments August 2021
      Easing into a more regular schedule, enjoying seasonable summer afternoons, with extra couples time on the weekends.
    • 2021/07 Moments July 2021
      Summer in the city with temperate weather, without the usual crowd scenes for summer festivals.
    • 2021/06 Moments June 2021
      Early summer weather, with a city gradually emerging from pandemic shutdown orders given by the Province of Ontario.
    • 2021/05 Moments May 2012
      Brighter days of spring, with slight dips in temperature to remind us our four-seasons climate.
    • 2021/04 Moments April 2021
      Short bike rides around town, in variable spring weather under pandemic stay-at-home orders,
    • 2021/03 Moments March 2021
      Days brightening and temperatures above freezing, optimism with vaccinations against the pandemic.
  • RSS on Media Queue

  • Meta

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
    Theme modified from DevDmBootstrap4 by Danny Machal