On Systems Thinking and the Systems Approach

World Futures 67 (4-5):343 - 371 (2011)
Abstract
Despite the frequent use of the term systems by academicians and management practitioners, there is little agreement as to what the term really means. Experts in different fields talk about accounting systems, production systems, electronic data processing systems, market systems, financial systems, reward and motivation systems, and so on, but the student of management is confused by the nebulous and, at times, seemingly contradictory terms. This article uses the term Systems Approach as a convenient handle to pull together a few basic ideas about the systems concept. Systems Approach organizes one's thinking to understand more clearly the complexity of a real world phenomenon. It consists of two main parts: (1) Systems Thinking (ST), and (2) Information Technology (IT). ST provides the knowledge for developing a Theory of Systems, such as General Systems Theory and Cybernetics, while IT supplies the tools for testing and improving this theory. The relationship between the two parts is a complementary one. Advances in theory lead to the development of better technology, while improvement in technology makes theory development easier and more reliable
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