012 A Systems Approach

The general management or organization theorist’s domain is the whole. One is concerned with the problem of organization space or the distance between subfunctions, subprocesses, tools, and techniques-the interface problems. To those who are concerned with the whole, the partial approach of the new technology is disconcerting. Where and how do all these parts fit together, and what is the relationship between one and another? Sprinkling behavioral and quantitative courses about a business curriculum is of questionable effectiveness. Therefore, as far as the newer technologies are concerned, a gestalt, or general, model has been missing which will integrate all the parts meaningfully. What is being suggested is that the systems approach will provide this model.

Another problem which has emerged, which requires that the organization be designed as a total system, is that all too frequently the organizational context into which the newer technologies are inserted tend to be inappropriate. We are attaching sophisticated techniques to a primitive vehicle — the bureaucratic structure. Organizations should be designed around the technology; technology should not be forced to fit an existing structure.

In Figure 2, the control or feedback mechanism is added to the organization, which is represented by management. Or, in terms of control theory, the management segment constitutes the basic control element of the organization. Thus, given a certain welfare objective or expected welfare output (a profit increment), actual welfare is measured against expected welfare. If a difference exists, then a problem is indicated. This information is sent to the management segment which formulates a solution that is then input into the organization process. This feedback device will operate until the actual and expected welfares are approximately equal.