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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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