Connectivity as a basis for a systems modelling ontology

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The idea of ‘connectivity’ is central to Systems Thinking and is proposed as a basis for developing a comprehensive set of generic organizational properties for use in practice. In purposeful human activity systems, the generic properties are aggregated to form identifiable modules or compositions which are suggested to be essential for organizational life. The properties are present to varying degrees at all stages in the life of organization and have application for analysing problems, planning change and making decisions. The similarity of this approach to living systems theory and the use of object modelling language is noted. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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... There has been some discussion in the literature regarding "organizations as social in nature" (Adamy & Heinecke, 2005, p. 240). The Hawthorne studies (Mason, 2005) revealed that employees were motivated and expressed loyalty to the company simply because the organization was paying attention to their daily activities. Feelings and free will were what Mason referred to as "properties of human entities" that intertwined with human performance in the workplace (p. ...
... This research provided an opportunity to understand the underpinnings of organizations as social structures and the connections that hold organizations together (Ashkanasy, 2005;Kaarst-Brown et al., 2004;Mason, 2005;Smith, 2005). Trust in the organization, its mission, and values may be as easy as the leaders' ability to crystallize these concepts in a language that can be understood and heard by the people they lead. ...
... Discussions by Buber (1996), Covey (2004), Friedman (2002), Mason (2005), and Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski, and Flowers (2004b), revealed that there is a need for connections between people, especially in organizations. Inherent in organizations is a series of connections (Mason) where employees join for a common goal (Johnson & Johnson, 2000). ...
... Therefore, key concepts for sustainability are discussed by Easterbrook (2014) for understanding and reasoning about system behavior. Mason (2005) defines a set of properties, especially for organizational behaviors. Furthermore, Kaderka et al. (2018) develop a tool to allow engineers to specify system and component behaviors. ...
... It has also been argued that a reductionist paradigm is unsuitable in understanding organizations, because they are inherently multifaceted, interconnected and dynamic. Mason (2005), for example, suggests that by focusing managerial attention on isolated parts of an organization, the reductionist paradigm can lead managers to not recognize the interconnected relationships among organizational entities, and this can result in poor decision-making. ...
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‘Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static “snapshots.” ’ ‐Peter Senge. The current research examined the psychological construct of systems thinking alongside other established psychological constructs of intelligence, personality, cognitive complexity and creativity to distinguish systems thinking as an independent psychological construct. Across two studies, results suggest that, while systems thinking may overlap with some of these constructs, notably intelligence and cognitive complexity, these constructs did not fully explain obtained variance in systems thinking scores and suggest that systems thinking may indeed be a distinct, perhaps foundational, psychological construct that may exist as an individual difference dimension. This exploratory study discusses the theoretical implications of systems thinking as well as further psychometric validation of the Systems Thinking Scale. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
... Connectivity is a fundamental property of any system (Mason, 2005; Checkland and Scholes, 1990). ...
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Abstract Contemporary enterprise risk management (ERM) has moved from an event-based view of risk to a hierarchical, systems-based approach. Risk systems that involve human interaction are classified and behave as complex adaptive systems. One of the key signatures of complex adaptive systems is that they evolve, and therefore a detailed understanding of the evolution of an enterprise’s risk system should reveal the nature, future likely emergence and adaptation of risks in that enterprise. In order to operationalize such an approach, a methodology is proposed in this paper that draws on phylogenetic approaches that have been successfully developed for biological evolution. The technique and process provide an insight into the lineage, pace and impact of external conditions on the evolution of risks. They also provide a unique and rational classification of risk in an enterprise that can be used to optimize risk management resources. An example of a fictitious insurance company is used to illustrate the approach.
... Albeit adhering to slightly different definitions, autonomy (Tsivacou, 2005), belonging (Baldwin et al., 2011), connectivity (Mason, 2005;Albert and Barabasi, 2002) and emergence (Huaxia, 2007) have been studied in various systems to mitigate their ambiguity. ...
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The Schelling segregation model is a well‐established representation of social issues in a neighbourhood. On the basis of the systems approach, a model of system of systems (SoS) that is validated through comparison with the Schelling model and applies to more neighbourhoods is proposed. The systems model of an SoS empirically demonstrates the potential for conflict to arise as the autonomy of systems within a geographically distributed SoS increases. The results may contribute to future international policy as well as ecological management. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
... Further work on RAF applications should therefore consider in parallel (a) thresholds as drivers of regime shifts, and (b) key system characteristics that influence the level of resilience (magnitude) and the position of such thresholds. These system characteristics can be structural system elements, such as actorsÕ connectivity (Kolb, 2008;Mason, 2005;Oliver 1997) and centrality (Friedkin, 1993;Ibarra, 1993;Sparrowe, Liden, Wayne, & Kraimer, 2001), or functional elements such as capacity of self-organization (Lichtenstein, 2000; Rycroft & Kash, 2004), learning and trust (Jarillo, 1993). ...
This paper extends prior research in organizational resilience, which has failed to recognize that resilience can be a desirable or undesirable system characteristic depending on the system state. We introduce an organizational typology, the Resilience Architecture Framework (RAF), which forms a platform for the integration of divergent research streams organizational rigidity, dynamic capabilities and organizational ambidexterity into the study of organizational resilience. We conclude with framework implications and directions for future research. Crown Copyright
Purpose The purpose is to forward systems theory one more step towards social theory and integrate problem-solving and theory-building, and search for the integration and unity of science by revealing the nature and role of critical systems thinking (CST). Design/methodology/approach This article describes relations between systems theory and social theory in three parts. First, it examines the links of systems methodologies with three social science approaches as well as the role of CST. Second, the focus of theory and the form of explanation are discussed from critical social science (CSS) perspective. Third, the direction of theorizing of a CST-based systems theory is investigated. Findings First, CST is a hidden assumption of system dynamics (SD)/systems thinking (ST). Second, systems theory is positioned in CSS. Third, CST integrates traditional and soft systems methodologies (SSM), and connects systems science and social science. Fourth, this article reveals hidden links between systems approaches and three corresponding social science approaches. Fifth, the theoretical focus of a CST-based systems theory could be formal/structure theory and/or substantive/content theory. Sixth, the form of explanation could be structural/mechanismic explanation combining causal and interpretive explanations. Seventh, a CST-based systems theory may adopt abduction, which complements a defect in deduction and induction in a difficulty of nonlinearity. Originality/value It illustrates a graph of the competing approaches in systems science corresponding to paradigms in social science.
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The paper reports a reflective inquiry into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of systems-related courses developed and presented up to 1995 by the former Systems Department in the Open University, UK. The SWOT analysis is considered in the context of the "systems movement" in its broadest sense. Based on the OU experiences the institutional challenges of systems-as-discipline and interdiscipline are explored. Three strategies for the future are suggested: (i) the potential of Systems Departments to demonstrate rigorous and coherent interdisciplinarity; (ii) for systemists to work harder to bridge the divide between their espoused theory and theory in use, particularly in their own institutional settings and (iii) the need for a rigorous pedagogy for "systems practice."
A set of basic systems concepts are proposed for describing human activity organization; for verifying the integrity of organizations and for use in modelling. Issues related to the use of the concepts for modelling organizations, such as holism, compositions, network representation and life cycles, are discussed. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
• This work, a second edition of which has very kindly been requested, was followed by La Construction du réel chez l'enfant and was to have been completed by a study of the genesis of imitation in the child. The latter piece of research, whose publication we have postponed because it is so closely connected with the analysis of play and representational symbolism, appeared in 1945, inserted in a third work, La formation du symbole chez l'enfant. Together these three works form one entity dedicated to the beginnings of intelligence, that is to say, to the various manifestations of sensorimotor intelligence and to the most elementary forms of expression. The theses developed in this volume, which concern in particular the formation of the sensorimotor schemata and the mechanism of mental assimilation, have given rise to much discussion which pleases us and prompts us to thank both our opponents and our sympathizers for their kind interest in our work. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
The concepts and terms commonly used to talk about systems have not themselves been organized into a system. An attempt to do so is made here. System and the most important types of system are defined so that differences and similarities are made explicit. Particular attention is given to that type of system of most interest to management scientists: organizations. The relationship between a system and its parts is considered and a proposition is put forward that all systems are either variety-increasing or variety-decreasing relative to the behavior of its parts.
We probably have simplified matters too much. We tend to talk about systems thinking and practice as if we knew what they are. The fashionable call for holistic or systems thinking in ecological issues provides a major example. This much is certain: the quest for comprehensiveness, although it represents an epistemologically necessary idea, is not realizable. If we assume that it is realizable, the critical idea underlying the quest will be perverted into its opposite, i.e., into a false pretension to superior knowledge and understanding—a danger of which the environmental movement does not always appear to be sufficiently aware. My question, therefore, is this: How can we deal critically with the fact that our thinking, and hence our knowledge, designs, and actions, cannot possibly be comprehensive, in the sense that we never comprehend all that ought to be understood before we pass to judgment and action? What consequences does this fact imply for a critical systems approach to ecological concerns and, ultimately, for our concepts of rationality in general?
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Systems Thinking is a new paradigm set to revolutionize management practice in the 21st century. 'Systems Approaches to Management' is the most comprehensive guide available to the application of this new paradigm in the field of management. The volume: - traces the emergence of holistic thinking in disciplines such as biology, control engineering, sociology, and the natural sciences -details and provides a critique, based upon social theory, of the range of systems approaches, methodologies, models and methods - offers numerous case studies to illustrate systems thinking applied to management - introduces 'critical systems thinking' as a coherent framework that brings unity to the diversity of different systems approaches and advises managers how best to use them - provides an accessible source of inspiration for managers, management consultants, scholars, and students The author covers chaos and complexity theory, the learning organization, system dynamics, living systems theory, soft systems methodology, interactive management, interactive planning, total systems intervention, autopoiesis, management cybernetics, the viable system model, operations research (hard and soft), systems analysis, systems engineering, general system theory, socio-technical systems thinking. the fifth discipline, social systems design, team syntegrity, postmodern systems thinking, critical systems thinking, and much more.
Joyce Fortune and Geoff Peters’ research into how the failures in organizations can be best understood extends over twenty years and their observations and conclusions have been well tested. This book shows that understanding can also lead to prevention. It aims to raise the study of failure to a point where experiences and lessons learnt are openly discussed as positive achievements rather than dark secrets. The Systems Failures Method, which is at the core of this book, is designed to focus systems thinking to the specifics of understanding failure. Major disasters and smaller failures could be prevented using systems thinking because it is uniquely suited to the task of avoiding failure. The Systems Failures Method has now been applied by well over 1000 people in a wide range of situations. Cases used in this book include the gas leak at a chemical plant in Bhopal, India, and the failure of electronic medical records in the health care systems of the UK, Canada and the USA. The challenge for those in business is to start using failure as a trigger for organizational learning. This book will help them.
This work gives, for the first time, a complete overview of the field of Systems and Cybernetics, as it developed from its beginnings more than 40 years ago up to date. It covers at the same time very general and well known basic concepts and much more information on the subject, until now scattered among hundreds of papers presented in international or national meetings, most of them completely out of reach of the majority of scholars. While redacted in English, it contains also a considerable store of valuable information gathered from sources in various other languages e.g. Dutch, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, etc. The work contains nearly: 3,000 entries in alphabetical order A considerable quantity of verbatim quotes from hundreds of authors More than 1,200 specific references General information about Systems and Cybernetic Societies in the world Principal journals in the field
Principles of Physiology Mosby: St Louis Understanding Systems Failures Catastrophic Failures How Brains Think
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Wiley: Chichester. Berne RM, Levy MN. 2000. Principles of Physiology. (3rd edn). Mosby: St Louis. Bignell V, Fortune J. 1984. Understanding Systems Failures. Manchester University Press: Manchester, UK. Bignell V et al. 1977. Catastrophic Failures. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK. Calvin WH. 1996. How Brains Think. Phoenix: London. Carter R, Martin J et al. 1984. Systems, Management and Change. Harper & Row: New York.
Chichester. Churchman CW. 1971. The Design of Inquiring Systems
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Wiley: Chichester. Churchman CW. 1971. The Design of Inquiring Systems. Basic Books: New York.
Systems Approaches to Management Kluwer Academic/Plenum: New York. Jenkins GM. 1969. The systems approach
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Jackson MC, 2000. Systems Approaches to Management. Kluwer Academic/Plenum: New York. Jenkins GM. 1969. The systems approach. Journal of Systems Engineering 1(1): 1–21.
Principles of Physiology
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Catastrophic Failures
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Understanding Systems Failures
  • Bignell V
  • Fortune J
Systems, Management and Change
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A comparative characterisation of management science methodologies
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Holism and Evolution
  • Smuts JC
A plea for critical holism
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The Art of Judgement
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