THE SYSTEMS APPROACH
(circa 1945-1975) Fonte
"While we can conceive of a sum
being composed gradually, a system ... is composed instantly"
Following World War II and the work of March
& Simon, there was increased interest in the use of quantitative
(statistical, mathematical, computerized) methods in management
(as administrative thought was beginning to be called). The "systems"
movement, aka "the quantitative school" gave us numerous tools,
such as PPBS (Planned Programmed Budgeting Systems), CIS (Computer
Information Systems), and the whole field of Operations Research.
It has turned out to provide a solid basis for the analysis of organizations,
which are characterized as either "open" systems (which interact
with and are influenced by their environment) or "closed" systems
(which do not interact with their environment). A clock is an example
of a closed system because assuming a power source, the clock needs
no further outside environment to run properly. A plant is an example
of an open system because it needs air and sunlight from the environment.
Examples of environmental factors in criminal justice include clienteles,
constituencies, law, politics, and technology.
A "system" is defined as "an organized, unitary
whole composed of two or more interdependent parts (subsystems)
where the whole contains identifiable boundaries from its environment
(suprasystem)." Systems must be viewed as a whole; changes in one
part of the system affect the other parts. Organizations experience
various conflicts, and rather than manage them away, a systems manager
learns to take advantage of them. Below are the last names of a
few of the lesser-known systems thinkers from this era:
- von Bertalanffy (~1950) is generally regarded as the founder
of "systems theory" and the broad sweep of its applications for
almost all disciplines, the natural as well as the social sciences.
- Ackoff (~1956) was a MIT professor who invented OR, "operations
research", the creation of multi-disciplinary teams of experts
used in simulations of war games.
- Boulding, an economist known for popularizing "feedback loops"
and "cybernetics", the analysis of inputs, throughputs, and outputs.
- Starr, a decision theorist associated with OR and the concept
- Forrester, a demographer who applied econometrics to urban
problems and the field of city planning.
- Parsons, a sociologist who studied action systems and the
integration of subsystems.
It is customary to note that systems theory
represented the merger of many ideas from scientific management
and from human relations management. It was indeed project-based,
lending itself well to Gantt charts, and it also strived toward
synergism (where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts)
through humanistic management of at least the internal environment
(the informal organization of the workers).
THE PRINCIPLES AND METHODS OF SYSTEMS THEORY
Much of systems theory resembles the scientific
method: you hypothesize, design a controlled experiment, collect
data, and analyze data. The purpose is to maintain the use of science
in management to obtain "real time" results that can be used instantaneously
to affect control in the organization (some have even accused systems
theory of being "science in management" rather than a "science of
management"). The goal is to maintain your attention on the whole
at all costs. For managers, this means:
1. Define the company as a system
2. Establish system objectives (performance criteria)
3. Identify wider systems (the environment)
4. Create formal subsystems (including a humanistic, psychosocial
5. Integrate the subsystems with the whole system (if not the
subsystems themselves, whatever interrelates them with other subsystems)
SOME BETTER-KNOWN EXAMPLES OF SYSTEMS THEORIES
Robert Blake & Jane Mouton
(1964) developed a theory known as the "Managerial Grid". It is
based on two variables: focus on task and focus on relationships.
The grid includes five possible leadership styles based on concern
for task or concern for people. Using a specially designed testing
instrument, people can be assigned a numerical score depicting their
concern for each variable. Numerical indications, such as 9,1 or
9,9 or 1,9 or 1,1 or 5,5 can then be plotted on the grid using horizontal
and vertical axes. Although their work is also often classified
as a Leadership Theory, it is typical of the specially designed
analysis and instruments of the systems theorists.
Victor Vroom (1964) studied
the motivational and decision-making processes and developed what
has come to be known as expectancy
theory, (also known as equity theory as developed
by Homans and other social psychologists). this approach attempts
to measure the degree of desire to perform a behavior rather than
the need to perform a behavior. Motivation strength is calculated
by multiplying the perceived value of the result of performing a
behavior by the perceived probability that the result will materialize.
The idea that workers are driven by complex internal processes of
motivation is sometimes known as expectancy
Fred Fiedler (1967) devised
a questionnaire called the "Least Preferred Coworker (LPC) Scale"
which could be used by management in various ways, but most importantly
in this context to find out what integrates or interrelates the
human subsystem. Fiedler believed in situational leadership, that
some personality attributes contribute to effective leadership in
some situations but not in others. The idea that there is no single
best approach to leadership is sometimes known as contingency