Raul Espejo

Raul Espejo
Syncho Research and World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics

Doctor of Philosophy

About

101
Publications
43,159
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1,655
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 1995 - November 2002
University of Lincoln
Position
  • Professor (Full)
June 1985 - present
Syncho Research
Position
  • Research Director
March 1977 - December 1995
Aston University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (101)
Article
Full-text available
This contribution offers the author’s personal experience with a project that took place 25 years ago in Latin America. This was about Second Order Auditing in Colombia during the second part of the 1990s. This project was carried out at the Country’s National Auditing Office (CGR), and was an application of the Viable System Model (VSM) and the Vi...
Article
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This contribution offers reflections about Chilean Cybersyn, 50 years ago. In recent years, Cybersyn, has received significant attention. It was the brainchild of Stafford Beer, who conceived it to support the transformation of the Chilean economy from its bureaucratic history to hopefully create a vibrant and modern society, driven by cybernetic t...
Article
Purpose This paper aims to offer an integration of Vladimir Lepskiy’s third-order cybernetics and Raul Espejo’s Viplan methodology. Key ideas are mechanisms for social responsibility and a methodology to improve them through self-developing reflexive-active environments. Design/methodology/approach The authors propose a methodology based on modern...
Article
An enterprise complexity model (ECM) is offered as a methodological tool for the actors of an enterprise to overcome complex environmental problems. The heuristic for this purpose is the viable system model, which guides an enterprise's self‐organization towards policies creating, regulating and producing sustainable development goals. Self‐organiz...
Article
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Article
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Purpose: The memorandum is conducted to share the notion on awarding one of the most prestigious recognitions in the realm of Systems thinking and Cybernetics: The WOSC Norbert Wiener Memorial Golden medal to Professor Emeritus PhD. PhD. Matjaž Mulej for his long life contributions. Approach: The Norbert Wiener Memorial Golden medal was awarded to...
Article
In the age of social networks, and also of an extensive use of Artificial Intelligence, a deeper understanding of the interactions among thousands of individuals should help us in the quest of designing effective procedures to manage the ‘bigdata’ that is overwhelming our human capacity to deal with increasing complexity. This paper offers insights...
Article
This article discusses interactions in nature and in human organisations. Human organisations, to a large degree, have evolved with hierarchical relationships and power imbalances, making it common for people to experience unfair societies. Its aim is contributing towards overcoming some of the shortcoming of these top-down structures learning from...
Chapter
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In this chapter, the author proposes an enterprise complexity model (ECM), which is visualized as a methodology to achieve the distributed governance of an ecology of evolving enterprises. Governance is understood as guiding the enterprises selforganization towards policies creating, regulating, and producing products and services for society. Self...
Chapter
Problematic situations are recurrent in organisational systems. We are all, individually or collectively, managing them and need strategies for this purpose. Indeed, for as long as we maintain interactions with others we are managing problematic situations; sometimes we simplify them too much yet in others we respond chaotically without proper refl...
Book
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CYBERNETICS: STATE OF THE ART is the first volume of the book series CON-VERSATIONS. Driven by cybernetic thinking, it engages with pressing questions for architecture, urban planning, design and automated infrastructure; in an age of increasing connectivity, AI and robotization and an evolutionary state of the Anthropocene - perpetuating angst-rid...
Article
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How can systems and cybernetics address the issues arising from an increasingly complex world, that often is beyond our traditional response capabilities? The author argues that to address such complexity we require imaginative propositions and innovative behaviours to see and address the inherently systemic nature of our world, which too often is...
Article
In marketing theory, the shift from the paradigm of value creation to value ‘cocreation’ calls for a deeper grasp of the interactions between producers and customers. Marketing studies have widely focused on the value cocreation concept, but so far, the mechanism through which consumers can be involved in the process of value cocreation through pro...
Article
Purpose – Illustrate supported by Beer’s Viable System Model and four vignettes the relevance of self-organisation, recursive structures, self-reference and reflexivity in policy processes. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach – First, the concepts of self-organisation, recursive structures, self-reference and reflex...
Article
Purpose – It is natural for interacting organisational actors and environmental agents to experience complexity asymmetries. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the balancing of these complexities at a level of performance that not only maintains the organisation’s viability but also the health of its ecosystem. Design/methodology/approach –...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Can the Viable System Model (Beer, 1979) be a sound approach to shape a more effective value co-creation process able to achieve higher satisfaction and value? In this theoretical paper we will show how cybernetic can be effectively used to give a positive answer to both questions above.
Article
In this paper the author offers a methodological extension of earlier work on Viplan (Espejo, 1988, Espejo and Reyes, 2011) as an extension of Beer's Viable System Model (Beer, 1979, 1981, 1985). The author calls this extension the Enterprise Complexity Model (ECM). Enterprise is used in the sense of an innovative undertaking in the private, public...
Chapter
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In this paper I offer personal reflections 40 years after Cybersyn’s demise the 11th of September 1973. This project was Stafford Beer’s creation, underpinned by his Viable System Model. The emphasis of these reflections is in contrasting its rather limited achievements with its vision and relevance for our societies today. Its claims were large; i...
Article
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This paper is focused on the financial crisis of 2008. It discusses the consequences of not weaving financial and economic activities into one organisational system constituted by cohesive and inclusive autonomous systems. Financial activities should be services enabling and regulating economic activities and not autonomous activities pursuing thei...
Article
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to offer an incursion into the complexity of organisations. This paper distinguishes a collective in its surroundings, an organisation in its medium and an organisation in its environment and proposes these distinctions as complementary epistemologies that help when studying organisations. Design/methodology/...
Article
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Introducing the Model The Viable System Model (VSM) is not a new idea. Created by Stafford Beer over twenty years ago, it has been used extensively as a conceptual tool for understanding organizations, redesigning them (where appropriate) and supporting the management of change. Despite its successful application within numerous private and public...
Article
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Purpose This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the knowledge that Beer's viable system model helps when applied to the study of change processes in organisations. Design/methodology/approach This paper develops a case study constructed on interviews and shared reflections by the author and a key player in the company. Aspects of the...
Article
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This paper offers a conceptual construction of governance and democracy based on ideas of complexity (Ashby, 1964) and viability (Beer, 1979), which is illustrated with reference to a historic review of the practice of democracy in Colombia. The historic roots of democracy, particularly the legacies of the Greek polis and the French and American re...
Article
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In this paper I discuss key concepts that explain case studies which use the Viable System Model (Beer, 1979, 1981, 1985). I will first explain the idea of organisation, then explore the concept of communications, in particular communications between autonomous systems, and finally I'll discuss the idea of structural embodiment of policies supporte...
Article
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to argue that active citizenship and organisational transparency are necessary to increase stakeholders' influence in policy processes. Active citizenship is necessary to involve stakeholders in policy processes and organisational transparency is necessary to improve communications between them and policy make...
Article
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss the evolution of a company in Argentina with the support of the viable system model (VSM) and the Viplan method. This company had had a cybernetic intervention in the 1980s and in 2002 went out of business. The authors' purpose was revisiting the company with the lenses of current organizational cyb...
Chapter
Organizational systems are the main object of observation and study in this book. This is the first chapter of four that build up the Viplan Method to study organizational systems. This method is a heuristic, useful in taking decisions to improve an organization’s effectiveness. VIPLAN stands for viability planning. It starts by addressing question...
Chapter
The term control is a loaded one and the term communication needs much clarification. In 1948 Wiener encapsulated the outcome of discussions about feedback loops and circular causality in self-regulating systems in his book Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine and this was formally the beginning of cybernetics as...
Chapter
This chapter gives methodological guidance to support transformational processes rather than occasional problem solving exercises. It offers guidance to manage change in situations where organizations absorb problematic challenges. The methodology is grounded in an appreciation of issues of communication and complexity. It highlights structural sho...
Chapter
The previous chapter showed how the unfolding of complexity is a useful tool to describe and design the way an organization groups (or should structure) its primary activities. In this chapter the unfolding of complexity is used to discuss the distribution of resources and discretion from the organization’s global level to the local level of the mo...
Chapter
In this chapter we argue that organizations emerge when members of a collective produce a closed network of recurrent interactions or relations. Interactions can be direct communications, such as everyday conversations, or indirect communications, such as when people coordinate their actions as an outcome of sharing a context or culture. A closed n...
Chapter
Showing how to carry out the second and third steps of the Viplan Method is the purpose of this chapter. We assume that the organization in focus can be described in terms of a transformation process needed to produce the products or services implied by its ascribed name. Our concern now is finding the activities, and their relations, that are nece...
Chapter
We, as individuals, are dealing with complex situations, that is, with situations challenging us with a large number of states changing rapidly and unpredictably over time. In all these situations to perform effectively we have to manage the complexity of the situation. This chapter is dedicated to explore principles for managing complexity. We tak...
Chapter
A system is a set of interrelated parts that we experience as a whole. While we may be able to observe and bump into these parts, their systemicity emerges from their relationships, which are abstract. As such, a system is different to a thing ‘out there’. In this chapter we discuss different types of systems. We take the view that though all of th...
Chapter
This chapter offers a method to carry out variety engineering throughout an organization. Is the current design of implementation activities effective? Does the structural distribution of regulatory functions offer a good strategy to manage the complexity implied by the organization’s purposes? The method first offers a diagnosis of the current com...
Chapter
In this chapter we build on the concept of organization as a closed network of relations having identity to explain in detail the Viable System Model (VSM). This model offers a systemic form of observing collectives and institutions in today’s societies. The VSM clarifies the quality of the strategies used by a collective to manage the complexity o...
Chapter
This chapter uses the VSM to understand and observe how people in organizations manage their own complexity as they strive to maintain stability in a chaotic environment. The VSM offers strategies to manage complexity at the least cost to people and organizations. People manage organizational complexity intuitively and of course in the process they...
Chapter
During the past couple of decades the study of complexity has grown as one of the most fashionable themes of research. A cursory review shows that thousands of books have been published on the topic during this period and several journals are continuously addressing different aspects related to it. The work by the Santa Fe Research Institute is per...
Book
Preface During 1971–1973 the first author of this book was involved in Project Cybersyn in Chile. This was conceived by the cybernetician Stafford Beer for the recently elected government of Salvador Allende (Beer gives a vivid account of this work in the second edition of his book Brain of the Firm, 1981). This project was a holistic attempt to ad...
Article
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to clarify both regulatory processes in enterprises and the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their improvement. Design/methodology/approach – The approach of the paper is conceptual development and case study. Findings – It appears that ICTs will permit increasingly to measure the c...
Article
This paper offers a framework to relate strategy, structure and information systems in an organization. Current developments in information systems, particularly in the executive information systems (EIS) area, make apparent that the emphasis of design is in the ergonomy and flexibility of the reporijng, and not ih their alignment with effective ma...
Article
This paper aims at increasing our ability to observe and diagnose shortcomings in the management of complexity in organisations. People by and large manage organisational complexity intuitively and of course in the process they make more or less costly mistakes. These failures tend to be archetypical in the sense that they are relational patterns t...
Article
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss the issue of transparency in policy-making processes. Design/methodology/approach – Development and application of conceptual framework for policy studies. Findings – Complementarity of Habermas's theory of communicative action and Beer's Viable System Model. Relevance of the ideas of requisite orga...
Article
Today, societal decisions in areas of complexity are often dominated by one of three alternative ways: (a) by scientists, nowadays often in combination with commercial interest; (b) by politicians alone; and (c) by simply “laissez-faire,” or “the tyranny of small steps.” None of these three ways of decision making is fully democratic because they d...
Article
Ashby's Law of Requisite variety, Beer's Viable System Model, Maturana's Biology of Cognition, Habermas's theory of communicative action and Luhmann's theory of social systems have assisted my reflections upon issues such as power, democracy, participation and fairness in society. I have explored these issues from a cybernetics perspective in sever...
Article
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This paper deals with organisational complexity, seen from the perspective of its unfolding from global to local concerns. Historically, this unfolding has produced rigid social systems, where those in power positions have forced unfair constraints over the majorities at the local level, and often excluded them. There is a need to move towards flex...
Article
This paper explores the emergence of organization from individuals' interactions in a collective. Its focus is on small collectives like teams. Organization is explained as an outcome of both self-organization and design. Self-organization requires stretching environments and also commitment of individuals to the interests of the collective. As int...
Article
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2002 "Nature uses the limiting resource as regulator, and we – institutionally-do not, because we erroneously think that the limiting resource is cash…. The regulator is the limiting resource." (Stafford Beer) "Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them." (Alfred North Whit...
Article
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This paper offers an account of a process to build up relations of trust as a necessary condition for developing a new concept of auditing. The conceptual base of the discussion is centered upon the idea of managing complexity. Specifically, trust is observed not only as a form of reducing the complexity of our world relevant to each of us, but als...
Article
This paper develops a new discourse of control. The new discourse rejects the view that control is achieved through inspections and information alone, and supports the view that effective control means self-control and effective communications, both being necessary conditions to enable organizations to perform well. In this discourse, corruption is...
Article
Social systems are produced by people’s interactions. They are by and large the outcome of self-organising processes, which often produce undesirable properties like corruption, violence and other forms of social malaise. Yet, we want transparent, fair and effective social systems. Explores some of the issues involved in the production of desirable...
Article
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Fundamental disagreements are inherent in the variety of viewpoints, and often coercive nature of relationships, contained within an organisation. In this paper I explain how differences in purpose can be handled successfully using approaches to complexity which take forward ideas developed since the 1950s in organisational cybernetics [1][2][3][4]...
Article
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The software Viplan learning system is an aid to learn about Beer’s viable system model (VSM) and its application. This is done with the support of the Viplan method. The five activities of this method are explained with examples. First, it offers an approach to understand and discuss organisational identity through analysis of stakeholders. Second...
Article
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Develops the idea of complexity and its implications for our understanding of organisations and society. One such implication is the constitution of autonomous units within autonomous units. This notion is at the core of recursive organisations. Each of these autonomous units requires strengthening in its identity, cohesion and citizenship in order...
Article
This paper reflects upon the attempts by society to achieve environmental sustainability on the globe. It starts by considering the ways that the relationships between corporations and society are developing in view of the increasing economic power of the former relative to the latter and gives a brief overview of the nature of the perceived enviro...
Article
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This paper explores the value of employing two different research methodologies, ethnomethodologically informed ethnography and management cybernetics, in the re-design of the lending process in a `High Street' bank. These approaches may be seen as complementary in providing different and valuable `viewpoints' on organisations 'at work', but more i...
Article
This is an article about effective participation in organizations. It offers insights about the interplay between individual action and organization structure. It is argued that our actions produce these structures at the same time that these structures create the space for our actions in a never ending regression. Effective participation requires...
Chapter
In this paper we discuss the contemporary issue of corporate responsibility. Our aim is firstly to offer a general introduction to current concerns and practices under this topic. Of these environmental care is the specific concern of this paper. Following this we use the Viable System Model (VSM) to reflect upon the relations between corporations...
Article
This article elaborates on the historic roots of management cybernetics and its evolving identity. The nature of this evolution is explained by presenting a theory of action in organizations, which makes visible the interplay between people's autonomous actions and their role as observers of these actions. This interplay is referred to as the proce...
Article
This paper offers insights about the role of complexity in the interaction between a social system and its environment. For this purpose it clarifies, from the viewpoint of the individuals constituting these social systems, the complementarity between their domain of observation, or informational domain, and their domain of action, or operational d...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this paper I want to pursue a general problem of concern to all organisations, whether in the public or private sectors, large or small. This is the problem of how organisations relate themselves effectively to the environment in which they evolve and operate.
Article
This paper describes a practical application of Espejo's Cybernetic Methodology in Regent Engineering (Walsall) Ltd. This methodology makes explicit the need to consider organisational learning about problems in the structural context of the organisation concerned. The interplay between the operational, technical and human content of a problem with...
Article
The Viable System Model (VSM) is a powerful tool to think about the complexity of human activities. However, in addition to models we need effective frameworks for action. This paper offers one such framework based on what is known as 'second-order cybernetics'. Second-order cybernetics put the emphasis in the observer and language as key aspects i...
Article
Social change depends on communications. The more effective the mechanisms of communication between the participants in a situation are, the more likely it is that they will contribute, to the best of their abilities, to the discovery and production of desirable change. Hence the relevance of studying, and improving, the cybernetics of problem situ...
Chapter
The concern with problem situations is a response to their pervasive nature. A hallmark of human activities is that they are experienced as problematic. In the quest for stability people in general find that they need to bring about some kind of change in the situations of their concern. This quest is much more than countering perceived threats or...
Article
Full-text available
The Viable System Model (VSM) is not a new idea. Created by Stafford Beer over twenty years ago, it has been used extensively as a conceptual tool for understanding organizations, redesigning them (where appropriate) and supporting the management of change. Despite its successful application within numerous private and public sector organizati...
Article
Social change depends on communications. The more effective the communication mechanisms between the participants in a situation are, the more likely it is that they will contribute, to the best of their abilities, to the discovery and production of desirable change. Hence the relevance of studying, and improving, the cybernetics of problem situati...
Article
This paper offers a conceptual framework to discuss the organisational dimension of regional management. The regional system is defined as a ‘black box’ transforming regional resources into output products and services. The discussion is centred in the management of these transformations. It is argued that the complexity that managers have to see i...
Article
This paper explores the meaning of complexity in human activities and offers a way to deal with it. Complexity is defined as the number of distinct outcomes that a viewpoint 'sees' in a situation, and not as an objective property of the situation itself. Moreover, it is argued that seeing complexity depends on the history of the viewpoint. However,...
Article
In this paper we argue that information management is not only about managing the information resources of an organization as an economic activity; it is also about the use that individuals make of their information inputs and outputs. The discussion centres on individual managers, particularly on how successful they are in converting information i...
Article
There is wide evidence that the implementation of management information systems has run short of expectations. In this paper it is argued that these shortcomings are the result of a poor understanding, both by managers and system analysts, of organizational control processes. Hence the need to discuss these processes. This discussion is done with...
Article
Organization and management are two sides of the same coin, so it is necessary to project cybernetic insights jointly in both dimensions. The basic contention of this paper is that management is the task of making organizations effective and that therefore the understanding of organizations is the initial step toward cybernetic management. The locu...
Article
Full-text available
The article discusses the period between 1970 and 1973 when Chile underwent a process of social and political development. One of the goals of the government of this period was to effect fundamental structural changes. This paper reports on the efforts of CORFO, a large decentralized government agency, to organize and manage the Industrial Social A...
Article
The design of management information systems should take into consideration problems of organisational effectiveness. For this purpose, it is argued, we need to understand the conditions, internal to the organisation, that are limiting its learning and adaptation; that is, we need to understand the cybernetics of the organisation. An application of...
Article
This paper aims to give direction to MIS design research rather than to provide a “solution. ” It gives a brief review of the evolution and current state of MIS design attempting at the same time to support the need for a true systemic approach. Such a systemic approach forms the basis for the main part of the paper which focuses on certain crucial...
Book
Based on case studies in Sibera, Poland the UK, this book provides a cybernetic perspective on large-scale, multi-sectoral regional development programs. Chapters include information about the hydro-electric power developments in Russia (formerly the USSR), at Irkutsk and Bratsk-Ilimsk, the Lublin Coal developments in Poland and the North Sea Oil d...
Chapter
This chapter elaborates an organizational approach to regional development programs. The set of organizations, the multiorganization that defines the system under consideration, has a structure—be it formal or informal. We identify this structure by studying the nature of the goals of different member organizations in the context of the development...
Article
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An analytical framework to support organizational strategies for the planning and management of multi-sectoral programs is presented. Two different case studies are reported. The first is concerned with the 'Impacts of Oil Development Offshore of the Northeast Coast of Scotland'. While some findings specific to Scotland are presented, stress is lai...
Chapter
Many of the problems with which societies are confronted today transcend the scope of existing institutional capabilities, The energy crisis, or problems of pollution, or providing food for growing populations, as well as regional development are recognisably problems of this type. Approaches to their solution have generally been conceived in terms...
Article
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At the end of the 20th century advances in information technology have brought about revolutionary changes in Retail Banking. Banking has moved from branch-based operations to national or regional centres of expertise such as security and lending centres. A full service for a customer will usually involve more than one of these centres. But custome...

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