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Extending the legacy of social ecology into an emerging science of service systems

I’ve been approaching the development of an emerging science of service systems from a background of the systems sciences.  Describing and designing service systems — not only in business, but also in the public sector — includes the evolution and development both of human organization and of technology.  A large body of knowledge on social systems science was developed in the post-war industrial age, e.g. research conducted by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (1941-1989).  This work has been categorized in three perspectives:

The socio-ecological perspective emerged while facing cases where “von Bertalanffy’s concept of open systems” was not sufficient to deal with the degree of change in the environment.

We gradually realized that if we were usefully to contribute to the problems that faced the cases mentioned above we had to extend our theoretical framework. In particular, we had to discard the  assumption that systems or individuals could not know their environments and the unipolar focus on the system, or individual as system. In a positive sense we had to theorize about the evolution of the environment  and the consequences of this evolution for the constituent  systems.  (Emery 1997, pp. 38-39)

In 1967, Fred Emery summarized needs that the social sciences should have prepared to meet over the next thirty years.  More than a decade beyond that, we now have the Internet, globalization, and the prospect of an instrumented, interconnected and intelligent “smarter planet”.… Read more (in a new tab)

I’ve been approaching the development of an emerging science of service systems from a background of the systems sciences.  Describing and designing service systems — not only in business, but also in the public sector — includes the evolution and development both of human organization and of technology.  A large body of knowledge on social systems science was developed in the post-war industrial age, e.g. research conducted by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (1941-1989).  This work has been categorized in three perspectives:

The socio-ecological perspective emerged while facing cases where “von Bertalanffy’s concept of open systems” was not sufficient to deal with the degree of change in the environment.

We gradually realized that if we were usefully to contribute to the problems that faced the cases mentioned above we had to extend our theoretical framework. In particular, we had to discard the  assumption that systems or individuals could not know their environments and the unipolar focus on the system, or individual as system. In a positive sense we had to theorize about the evolution of the environment  and the consequences of this evolution for the constituent  systems.  (Emery 1997, pp. 38-39)

In 1967, Fred Emery summarized needs that the social sciences should have prepared to meet over the next thirty years.  More than a decade beyond that, we now have the Internet, globalization, and the prospect of an instrumented, interconnected and intelligent “smarter planet”.… Read more (in a new tab)

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    • 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.
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