Saturday, September 26, 2015

Prof. Joan Woodward - Biography and Contribution

Joan Woodward (September 27, 1916 – 1971) was a British professor in organization sociology

Joan Woodward undertook her research at South East Essex College of Technology. She  joined Imperial College in 1957 as a part-time lecturer in Industrial Sociology and was appointed to a Senior Lectureship in the Production Engineering Section in 1962. Woodward was a leading academic and researchers  in the field of Organization Theory. Woodward was a pioneer for empirical research in organizational structures and author of analytical frameworks that establish the link between technology and production systems and their role in shaping effective organizational structures. She classified the technology into Unit based or (Small scale), Mass based or (large scale) and Continuous process organizations. In 1969, she was appointed  as Professor of Industrial Sociology and Director of the Industrial Sociology Unit.

Her work received international recognition, leading to an invitation to join a group of the top seven organization theorists that was called the Magnificent Seven. In 1970, Prof. Woodward published a book "Industrial Organization: Behaviour and Control".  This text contains description of  the complete work of her research group since 1962.

Woodward died in 1971, aged 54 due to breast cancer. She was the second woman to receive a chair at Imperial College and she  is a role model for women in science, engineering and technology.I

The bi-annual Joan Woodward Memorial Lecture takes place at Imperial College Business School. The Joan Woodward Prize is bestowed annually on an undergraduate or post-graduate undertaking a thesis in a topic that matches the research interests of Joan Woodward.

ndustrial Organization
Theory and Practice
Second Edition
Joan Woodward
Introduction by Dorothy Wedderburn and Sandra Dawson
288 pages | text-figures, tables | 216x138mm
978-0-19-874122-0 | Paperback | 18 December 1980

Prof. Sumantra Ghoshal - Biography and Contribution

Sumantra Ghoshal
Birthday 26 September 1948

Death 3 March 2004  Hampstead, United Kingdom due to Brain Haemorrage

Sumantra Ghoshal was born in Calcutaa. He attended the Ballygaunge Government High School, and graduated from Delhi University with Physics major and attended the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management.

He started his career in Indian Oil Corporation. He went ot United States on a Fulbright Fellowship and Humphrey Fellowship in 1981. Ghoshal was awarded an M.S. and a PhD by  the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1983 and 1985 respectively. He  was  awarded a D.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1986. He worked on these two doctoral degrees at the same time, writing two distinct dissertations on two different topics

In 1985, he joined INSEAD Business School in France. He  wrote a number of influential articles and books. In 1994, he joined the London Business School. Ghoshal was a Fellow of the Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM) in the U.K.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Henry Varnum Poor - Early Management Thinker - 1850

Based on the Article
By Alfred D. Chandler, Jr.

Henry Varnum Poor worked as the editor of the American Railroad Journal from 1849 to 1862 and
later published  Poor's Manual of the Railroads of the United States.

As editor, Poor made special studies of construction, finance, operation, and , administration. Of the major problems discussed in the pages of the Journal those raised by the beginning of large-scale private finance, at first fully occupied his attention.  He was the first American to analyze with care and intensiveness many of the basic problems of modern big business.

During the years 1845 to 1849 he had actively helped his brother, John Alfred Poor, build one of New England's most  important railroads, the Atlantic and St. Lawrence, which connected Portland with Montreal. In this work he acquired a valuable first hand understanding of what the construction of a railroad in a semi-frontier area of the United States involved and what specific problems of promotion, organization, construction, and financing had to be met.  He also has intellectual training. Through his brother-in-law, Frederick Henry Hedge, one of the initiators of the Transcendental movement,  Poor came to know
personally Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Channings, Theodore Parker, George Ripley, and other intellectual leaders of the day and became imbued with their buoyant, optimistic belief in man's progress and perfection.
Poor came to  believe that God had given man a mind as the means for his perfection. Man's mind was stronger than the currently existing man-made institutions and could alter the institutions which had brought sin and evil  into the world. The mind must be carefully trained and disciplined both intellectually and morally.

To Henry Poor the coming of the industrial and transportation revolutions was an example where
men by creatively applying their minds to the labor-saving machine were making strides towards the physical perfection that was the first and necessary step to intellectual and spiritual The railroad was having the most profound effect.  By lowering the cost of transportation and by making possible widespread commercial agriculture and large-scale industry, the railroad was making food, clothing, and the other necessities of life plentiful to all classes of For Henry Poor, then, the efficient construction and operation of the American railroad system was even more a moral than an economic necessity, and throughout his life his moral indignation was thoroughly aroused when incompetence or dishonesty hampered effective railroad operation.

When the decade of the fifties opened, the investment market had not yet been standardized. Finance was the major problem of the railroad industry at that time. The new western roads were coming
en masse to the eastern cities to raise money and if the funds were not forthcoming many lines so essential to the growth of the United States could not be built. For this reason Henry Poor, writing from his Wall Street office  tried to popularize  the railroad mortgage bond, the comparatively new financial instrument that was to finance the construction of the roads in the West and the South. He also analyzed conditions of the New York investment market, advising the roads when  to float their securities and explained to them the intricacies of getting  a fair price for western railroad bonds. Poor repeatedly advocated developing systems in  the methods of buying and selling securities. He urged reliable banking firms to enter the railroad security field.

By 1852, however, conditions had changed so rapidly that construction finance was no longer the major problem in the railroad industry and railroads were proliferating.  Poor became cautious and urged the investors not to put their money into roads about which they had little information, and asked the roads not to come to the market  unless the soundness of their financial position was made explicit in
their printed prospectuses. By 1857 there was depression and railroads got into financial problems. Poor
therefore turned his attention from finance and financial reform to the second major problem raised by the expansion of the railroad system at the time that of operation and management.


The Erie Railroad was completed in 1851, the Baltimore and Ohio and the Atlantic and St. Lawrence in 1853, and the Pennsylvania in 1855. The year 1852 saw the entrance of the Michigan Central and the
Michigan Southern into Chicago, and by 1855 the Mississippi had been reached at several places. By that date the Old Northwest which in 1849 had only some 600 miles of road could boast that nearly every sizable town in the area had rail connections with the Atlantic seaboard.

The development and handling of through traffic became an important factor in the survival or success.
One result was the consolidation of smaller lines. The railroad entrepreneurs of the 1850's were now faced with the complex problem of how to operate it most effectively.

The most serious and most novel of the problems of operation were raised by the greatly increased size of the new operating units. By 1855 close to twenty operating units were working more than 250 miles of road.

This development of large individual operating units  presented the American businessmen for the first time with the many modern problems of large-scale business management. Daniel C. McCallum, superintendent of the Erie, pointed out that actually in management methods the smaller roads were closer to the small manufacturing firms of the day than to the new roads of the fifties. A Superintendent of a road fifty miles in length can give its business his personal attention and may be constantly on the line engaged in the direction of its details; each person is personally known to him, and all questions in relation to its business are at once presented and acted upon; and any system however imperfect may under such circumstances prove comparatively successful. In the government of a road five hundred miles in length a very different state exists.

Henry Poor quite agreed with McCallum that system rather than size determined the efficiency of a road, and therefore, its productiveness. His attention had been turned to the problems of large-scale management by the realization that many small roads, old and new, were making better net returns than the large new ones. In railroads, where profits were relatively low, Poor felt that the failure to systematize administration and operations, rather than the roads' traditional excuse of low rates, was most responsible for their unfavorable
financial record. In 1854,  Poor decided to turn the attention of his paper to the study of management.

He wrote "We believe that the science of management is the most important in its bearings upon the success of the American Railroads that it includes facts and principles which are deserving a full statement and an elaborate discussion. . . In this field the Journal will ever strive to be a faithful laborer. To the editor of the Journal the science of management fundamentally resolved itself into three principles organization, communication, and  information. Of these organization was basic."

Organization to Poor meant the careful division of labor, from the president to the common laborer,
with each man having his own specified duties and responsibilities, and each being directly accountable to his immediate superior.  By communication Poor meant primarily a method of reporting throughout the organization which would give the top management an accurate and continuous account of the progress of
operations, and which in so doing would assure the necessary accountability all along the line. Information in an administrative sense was to Poor recorded communications that is, a record of the operational reports systematically compiled and analyzed. This information was to be used for deriving a clearer understanding of such basic matters as fixed costs, running expenses, operational performance, rate-making, and so
forth, and also to provide data necessary for more scientific experimentation to improve service.

He was in touch with various managers of railways in various companies. He was closest to McCallum of the Erie.  "Mr. McCallum's strong point," wrote Poor, "lies in his power to  arrange and systematize, and in his ambitions to perfect his systems. To  this end he has untiringly devoted his energies since he was appointed
in charge of this great work."

McCallum had reorganized the service so as to eliminate much duplication of work and thereby had actually made the road more efficient by cutting down the number of paid hands. Further measures had been
to utilize men fully by making temporarily unoccupied men to clean machinery and make minor repairs
on the rolling stock and equipment. He had systematized the methods of  repairing locomotives so that more than forty engines which were normally lying idle could be on the road. More important was McCallum's
proficiency in adapting the telegraph to railroad operations. Not only did the telegraph make for safer and far more efficient operations but it was also used to facilitate over-all administration. Poor concluded his remarks on McCallum's initial reforms by pointing out that:  Now, the superintendent can tell at any hour of
the day, the precise location of every car and engine on the line of the road and the duty it is performing. Formerly, the utmost confusion prevailed in this regard,  so much so that cars in perfect order
have stood for months upon the switches without being put to the least service, and without its being known where they were.

McCallum's careful "division of  management" was best expressed in an organization chart of the Erie
which he had drawn up for purposes of reference. The design of the chart was a tree with the roots representing the President and the Board of Directors; the branches were the five operating divisions and the
service departments: engine repairs, car, bridge, telegraph, printing, and so on; while the leaves represented the various local agents, subordinate superintendents, train crews, foremen, and so forth. McCallum's
subdivision went even further than indicated on the chart. The smaller units such as the repair and machine shops were "managed with the same careful system that characterized the general superintendence of the
Company's affairs."  Within these subdivisions the duties of each grade in the hierarchy not only were carefully specified, but the grade of each individual in the organization was indicated on the prescribed uniform worn by all employees.

The line of command within the organization followed closely the lines indicated on the organization chart. Orders must go from roots to the leaves via the proper branches. "All subordinates," McCallum insisted,
"shall be accountable to and be directed by their own immediate superior only; an obedience can not be enforced where the foreman in immediate charge is interfered with by a superior officer giving orders directly to his subordinates."  In the same way McCallum pointed out when discussing the powers of the more senior officials, "their subordinates cannot  communicate with higher office, but through them [the senior officials]
and can only be communicated with through them."

Communication from subordinate to superior in  the Erie was achieved by a thoroughgoing system
of reports. "This plan involves on the one hand a very considerable trouble and expense," the Journal
admitted, including "the maintenance of a large office of eight active clerks, but on the other hand it depicts faithfully in the general office every fact of practical importance." This plan included hourly, daily,
and monthly reports. The hourly reports were mainly operational, giving by telegraph a train's location and the reasons for any delays or mishaps.  This "information being entered on a convenient tabular form, showed at a glance, the position and progress of the trains,  in both directions on every Division." It also provided an excellent source of operational information which among other things proved especially useful in deter-
mining and eliminating "causes of delays."

Daily reports, the real basis of the system were required from both conductors and station agents. They covered all important matters of train operations as well as the more general movement of freight and
passenger traffic.  Daily reports were required from the engineers also. These were compiled in a monthly statement giving for each engine the miles run, running expenses, cost of repairs, and work done, and were
submitted as part of the monthly report required of each division superintendent. The superintendent's reports included an account of all operations of the division including cost, expenses, work done for all types of
equipment. Similar monthly reports were required from the heads of all the service departments. The
information thus obtained is embodied in the statistical accounts kept in this office and from it one can  deduce" a mass of information useful in improving the effectiveness of operations.

To Henry Poor the recording and filing of the operational and administrative information in statistical form was as important an aspect of reporting plan as was its provision for communicating the progress of operations to the head office. Poor had long considered operating statistics the basic tool for scientific management, and McCallum's plan appeared to be the most effective one yet devised to acquire such data.

Intelligent action could be taken to reduce expenses and improve performance only when it was known what the expenses of a road were and just how equipment and personnel performed. Comparative studies of the monthly engine reports, for example, clearly showed what engines were best suited to the different tasks, which engineers operated their machines most efficiently, and where changes should be made.

Statistics so necessary in determining running expenses were also essential in ascertaining the specific cost of carrying the different classifications of freight traffic and in fixing a fair rate for each classification. Statistics, Poor insisted, were the only basis on which sound principles  of rate-making could be evolved. Unless rates were thus scientifically determined, unless running and fixed expenses were carefully understood,
no road could be sure just what its net receipts were or how its profits and loss really stood. These determinations, in turn, could not be made until a careful system of organization and communication was devised.

The directors of the railroads always demanded increasing rates to take care of increase in expenses of transportation.  Transportation is  essential to American economic development.  Henry Poor was against it. Instead of increasing the rates Poor urged the American railroad men to apply their minds to reducing expenses so that the apparently low fares could bring a profitable return. He insisted upon an economical administration of the roads. He wrote, "With such an administration we believe the usual rates of charges can be rendered sufficiently remunerative."

In calling on the roads to meet their financial problems by adopting more efficient and economical operating and administrative techniques rather than by raising rates, Poor was the first to voice a demand that
railroad  reformers would take up and carry on for decades to come. In Poor's own day such engineers as Charles Ellet, Jr., John B. Jervis, Daniel C. McCallum, and Zerah Colburn, all made extensive efforts in different fields of railroad operation to carry out principles of a more scientific management.  After
the Civil War their efforts were expanded and refined by the brilliant work of Charles Francis Adams, Albert Fink, and Marshall Kirkman.  Nevertheless, considerations other than improved management in-
fluenced the policies of the financially minded railroad executives of that  day and  too often innovations and improvements in management methods were ignored or laid aside. Thus even as late as 1910 Louis D. Brandeis, supported the views of many of the country's leading engineers (industrial or efficiency engineers) and F.W. Taylor, proponent of scientific management and  insisted that the railroads should meet their financial difficulties by improving their administrative and operational efficiency rather than by raising rates.

If Henry Poor's enunciation of the principles of a more scientific management the principles of systematic organization, communication, and information anticipated and indeed indicated the most constructive
nineteenth-century developments in big business organization, his understanding of the problems involved in putting these principles into practice foreshadowed the twentieth-century pragmatic analysis of big business

He reaised the grave difficulties of adapting human capabilities and current business practices and institutions to the severe requirements demanded by the efficient operation of large-scale administrative units.

Of these difficulties one was the problem of getting railroad employees to accept the strict discipline and rigid regulations that were an essential part of large-scale administration. The employees took no pains to hide their dislike of the new model management and resorted to strikes.The tightening of control was also a primary cause for the founding in 1855 of the National Protective Association of the Locomotive Engineers of the United States. The call for the Association's first regular meeting registered a strong protest against "the blind system requiring implicit obedience" to all rules and regulations and asked: shall we longer submit to the tyrannical will of a few men who strive to aggrandize themselves and build themselves up the title of "Napoleons" and "Able Managers" by grinding down the pay and trying to suppress our rights as a free and independent class of men for the purpose of adding to their already enormous salaries for their "Able Management"?

Henry Poor  felt strongly that the new rules and regulations must be faithfully followed, for "we can see no other way in which such a vast machine can be safely and successfully conducted." Nevertheless he
stressed that the engineers had a valid point and urged that the regulations be given flexibility and that discretion within certain limits be allowed. He warned railroad managers of the danger of "regarding man as a mere machine, out of which all the qualities necessary to be a good servant can be enforced by the payment of wages. Duties cannot be always prescribed and the most valuable ones are often voluntary ones. . ."

 Poor highlighted the deadening effect of fixed wages and prescribed duties on the initiative and interest of the men in the organization.  Thus with salaries determined by grade rather than by ability shown or work accomplished and with the functions of each grade specifically prescribed, Poor saw little reason for the railroad employee or official to exert himself to improve the company's service.

 There is one way in which it can, and that is to supply an adequate motive to good conduct, by rewarding merit at its worth. Till this is done, railroads, wherever they may be, will drag along in their beaten tracks of dullness and routine, and become worse managed and less productive year by year.

Poor admitted, however, that the tendency toward routine and dullness was not inevitable as long as top management provided genuine leadership. Leadership infused an esprit de corps into the organization,
which stirred the interest and initiative of subordinate officials and made strict regulation more acceptable to the employees.  At the same time leadership was essential to keep the organization operating as a single
unit. The minds of the top management, wrote Poor, must become the soul of the enterprise, reaching and infusing life, intelligence and obedience into every portion of it. This soul must not be a fragmentary or
disjointed one giving one direction to the head, another to the hands, and another to the feet. Wherever there is a lack of unity there will be a lack of energy of intelligence of life of accountability and subordination.

Such leadership, however, demands the highest talents. Not only must the top managers know how to handle men, but they must, in Poor's view, have an expert knowledge and training in all aspects of railroad
administration and operation. Yet this was rarely the case in American companies, for, as Poor wrote, railroad executives and superintendents, while understanding their own specific duties, too often were
unacquainted with those of every important department under them; there is consequently no connecting link between the different departments of service, and no intelligence to guide them to a common end. In such a case it will not be long before the morale necessary to a high state of discipline will be completely broken. Instead of a unit, the different departments of service will often be arranged in hostile attitude towards each other. Parties in influential positions, being left to themselves, soon come to regard their own interests as the
chief objects of concern.

A superior could hardly be expected to exact accountability down the line if he did not comprehend the type of work being accounted for. Nor could he make use of a carefully systematized supply of hourly,
daily and monthly reports if he were not competent to interpret and understand the data he received. His subordinates finding it unnecessary, indeed often useless, to make reports and rarely receiving explicit orders were soon carrying out their own work without supervision from above. The ultimate result was that the railroad was administered from the bottom rather than the top. If the American railroads were, therefore, to operate efficiently it was  obvious that they must be managed by men of the highest ability and
training in railroad management. Yet it was just as obvious that this was rarely the case. In trying to account for this deficiency, Poor suggested that, in the first place, railroad companies did not provide incentives
enough to attract and hold the most able men; and, secondly, they too often used other criteria than ability and training in the selection of men for the top managerial posts. Finally, railroad companies too often failed
to detect inadequate leadership within their organization. This blindness Poor blamed primarily on the inability of the roads to exact proper accountability and responsibility from their managers. The breakdown of
managerial leadership in Poor's view, was, thus, not so much the inability of human capabilities to meet the multitudinous responsibilities of top management; it was rather the failure of current business methods and
organization to meet the requirements of large-scale administration. And this organizational failure was, in Poor's mind, sharply intensified by the sudden rise of a new business phenomenon the separation of ownership and management within the railroad corporation.

By the end of the 1850's the editor of the Railroad Journal was tracing nearly all the problems of railroads to the one underlying fact that their managers did not own and their owners did not manage. The complex
requirements of large-scale railroad operation necessitating as they did, for the first time in American business, the development of a technically proficient administrative hierarchy had created a managerial class. The huge financial demands of railroad construction and operation, on the other hand, requiring a vast amount of capital from private individuals, had created an investor class and had spread ownership among a large number of persons many of whom lived at great distances from each other and from their property. Henry Poor was uncertain whether the resulting division of the business unit between management and ownership could be resolved within the accepted framework of the corporation.

To be modified once again.

Published 18 Sep 2015

Sociotechnical Systems Approach - Management Thought Development Approach

Based on the premise that technical system has a great effect on social system (personal attitudes and group behavior)

 The term socio-technical system was coined in the 1960s by Eric Trist and Fred Emery who were working as consultants at the Tavistock Institute in London.

Based on
Socio-technical systems: From design methods to systems engineering
Gordon Baxter⁎ and Ian Sommerville
Interacting with Computers Volume 23, Issue 1, 2011, Pp. 4-17.

The term socio-technical systems was originally coined by Emery and Trist (1960) to describe systems that involve a complex interaction between humans, machines and the environmental aspects of the work system—nowadays, this interaction is true of most enterprise systems. The corollary of this definition is that all of these factors—people, machines and context—need to be considered when developing such systems using STSD methods.  STSD methods mostly provide advice for sympathetic systems designers rather than detailed notations and a process that should be followed.

There are five key characteristics of open socio-technical systems (Badham et al., 2000):

Systems should have interdependent parts.

Systems should adapt to and pursue goals in external environments.

Systems have an internal environment comprising separate but interdependent technical and social subsystems.

Systems have equifinality. In other words, systems goals can be achieved by more than one means. This implies that there are design choices to be made during system development.

System performance relies on the joint optimisation of the technical and social subsystems. Focusing on one of these systems to the exclusion of the other is likely to lead to degraded system performance and utility.

STSD methods were developed to facilitate the design of such systems.

Mumford (2006) provides an historical overview of developments in STSD. The general aim was to investigate the organisation of work, with early work in STSD focused mostly on manufacturing and production industries such as coal, textiles, and petrochemicals. The aim was to see whether work in these industries could be made more humanistic. In other words, the intention was to move away from the mechanistic view of work encompassed by Taylor’s (1911) principles of scientific management, which largely relied on the specialisation of work and the division of labour.

The heyday of STSD was, perhaps, the 1970s and the early part of the 1980s.  The XSEL (eXpert SELler) system of the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was developed using STSD (see Mumford and MacDonald, 1989 for a retrospective view). It was an expert system designed to help DEC sales staff assist customers in properly configuring their VAX computer installations. This system was a success and at its peak the family of expert systems, including XSEL, that were being used to support configuration and location of DEC-VAX computers was claimed to be saving the company tens of millions of dollars a year (Barker and O’Connor, 1989). The example illustrates that socio-technical approaches can be used effectively in real systems engineering.

 The late 1980s and early 1990s also saw the emergence of ethnographic studies of work, stimulated by Suchman’s (1987) seminal research at Xerox PARC. These ethnographic approaches (e.g., Heath and Luff, 1991) highlighted the significance of socio-technical issues in the design of software-intensive systems (e.g., Blomberg, 1988).

The 21st century has seen a revival of interest in socio-technical approaches.  The ideas appear in areas such as participatory design methods, CSCW and ethnographic approaches to design. Indeed, one of the key tenets of STSD is a focus on participatory methods, where end users are involved during the design process (e.g., Greenbaum and Kyng, 1991). However, these methods, all of which have their roots in STSD, differ in important respects. Participatory design, which covers a whole range of methods (e.g., see Muller et al., 1993), often involves the users (or user representatives) effectively moving into the territory of the system developers for the duration of the project. By contrast, empathic design (Leonard and Rayport, 1997) and contextual design (e.g., Beyer and Holtzblatt, 1999), which reflect STSD ideas, adopt the inverse view and put the developers into the users’ world as part of the development process.

The field of CSCW came about partly in response to a need to discuss the development of group support applications (Grudin, 1994), but it has implicit roots in socio-technical thinking. Bowker et al. (1997) make the link explicit, dealing with the socio-technical system and CSCW, as does the recent special issue of the journal Computer-Supported Cooperative Work which deals with CSCW and dependability in health care systems (Procter et al., 2006). The field of dependability (Laprie, 1985; Avizienis et al., 2004) is also intrinsically concerned with socio-technical systems, although this field sometimes uses the term ‘computer-based systems’ to refer to socio-technical systems.

Socio-technical ideas are equally applicable in other settings where technology is deployed. In recent years, there has been an increasing uptake of technology in the home, particularly as smart home technologies and assistive technologies.  Sommerville and Dewsbury (2007), for example, developed a model for the design of dependable domestic systems, which adopts a socio-technical view in which the system comprises the user, the home environment, and the installed technology.

Philosophy of Socio Technical Systems

Reviewed Work: Management of Work: A Socio-Technical System Approach by Thomas G. Cummings, Suresh Srivasta
Review by: Fremont Shull
The Academy of Management Review
Vol. 2, No. 4 (Oct., 1977), pp. 700-703

The Management of Socio-technical Systems using Configuration Modelling
Simon Lock

Sociotechnical Management Model for
Governance of an Ecosystem
Antonio J. Balloni1
, Adalberto Mantovani Martiniano de Azevedo2
 and Marco
Antonio Silveira
International Journal of Managing Information Technology (IJMIT) Vol.4, No.3, August 2012

Updated  18 Sep 2015,  13 May 2014

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy - Biography - Contribution

Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy (September 19, 1901 – June 12, 1972) was an Austrian-born biologist known as one of the founders of general systems theory (GST).

GST is an interdisciplinary practice that describes systems with interacting components, applicable to biology, cybernetics, and other fields.

General system theory
The theory attempted to provide alternatives to conventional models of organization. GST defined new foundations and developments as a generalized theory of systems with applications to numerous areas of study, emphasizing holism over reductionism, organism over mechanism.

Foundational to GST are the inter-relationships between elements which all together form the whole.

Open systems
Bertalanffy's contribution to systems theory is best known for his theory of open systems. The system theorist argued that traditional closed system models based on classical science and the second law of thermodynamics were inadequate for explaining large classes of phenomena. Bertalanffy maintained that “the conventional formulation of physics are, in principle, inapplicable to the living organism being open system having steady state.

In Bertalanffy’s model, the theorist defined general principles of open systems and the limitations of conventional models. Concerning biology, examples from the open systems view suggested they “may suffice to indicate briefly the large fields of application” that could be the “outlines of a wider generalization;” He developed implications for cybernetics also. Bertalanffy also noted unsolved problems.

Systems in the social sciences

In the social sciences, Bertalanffy did believe that general systems concepts were applicable, e.g. theories that had been introduced into the field of sociology from a modern systems approach that included “the concept of general system, of feedback, information, communication, etc.” He  critiqued classical “atomistic” conceptions of social systems and ideation “such as ‘social physics’ as was often attempted in a reductionist spirit.”  The theory  encouraged for new developments from sociology, to anthropology, economics, political science, and psychology among other areas.

Very detailed paper on General System Theory

Systems Approach in Management

Prof A.D. Chandler - Biography - Contribution

Alfred DuPont Chandler, Jr. (September 15, 1918 – May 9, 2007) was a professor of business history at Harvard Business School. His research area was  the scale and the management structures of modern corporations. His works redefined business and economic history of industrialization. He received the Pulitzer Prize for History for his work, The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (1977).

Chandler graduated from Harvard College in 1940. After World War II, he returned to Harvard, finished his M.A. in 1946, and earned his doctorate in 1952 under the direction of Frederick Merk. He taught at M.I.T. and Johns Hopkins University before joining Harvard Business School in 1970.

Chandler used the papers of his ancestor Henry Varnum Poor, a leading analyst of the railway industry, the publisher of the American Railroad Journal, and a founder of Standard & Poor's, for his Ph.D. thesis.

His book Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise (1962) examined the organization of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Standard Oil of New Jersey, General Motors, and Sears, Roebuck and Co.  The book was voted the eleventh most influential management book of the 20th century in a poll of the Fellows of the Academy of Management.

This emphasis on the importance of a cadre of managers to organize and run large-scale corporations was explained in more detail in  "The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (1977)" for which he received a Pulitzer Prize. He pursued the research  further and published "Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, (1990)" and co-edited an anthology  with Franco Amatori and Takashi Hikino, "Big Business and the Wealth of Nations (1997)."

Chandler continued to do research and write until the very end of his life. In 2001, he wrote “Inventing the Electronic Century: The Epic Story of the Consumer Electronics and Computer Industry,” which focused on the fall of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and the rise of Sony and Matsushita, as Japan conquered the worldwide consumer electronics market. That volume was followed in 2005 by “Shaping the Industrial Century: The Remarkable Story of the Evolution of the Modern Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries.”

Management for Chandler was much more than the CEO, it was the whole system of techniques and included middle management  as well as the corporate structure of the biggest firms, Standard Oil, General Electric, US Steel, and DuPont. Chandler argued that managerial firms evolved in order to take advantage of productive techniques available after the rail network was in place. These firms had a higher productivity and lower costs resulting in higher profits. The firms created the "managerial class" in America because they needed to coordinate the increasingly complex and interdependent system.

According to Chandler, during the 19th century, the development of new systems based on steam power and electricity created a Second Industrial Revolution, which resulted in much more capital-intensive industries than had the industrial revolution of the previous century. The mobilization of the capital necessary to exploit these new systems required a larger number of workers and managers, and larger physical plants than ever before. More particularly, the thesis of The Visible Hand is that,  administrative structure and managerial coordination replaced Adam Smith's "invisible hand" (market forces) among perfectly competitive market system with large number of sellers and buyers as the core developmental and structuring impetus of modern business.

In the wake of this increase of industrial scale, three successful models of capitalism emerged, which Chandler associated with the three leading countries of the period: Great Britain ("personal capitalism"), the United States ("competitive capitalism") and Germany ("cooperative capitalism.")

Along with economist Oliver E. Williamson and historians Louis Galambos, Robert H. Wiebe, and Thomas C. Cochran, Chandler was a leading historian of the organizational synthesis.

Chandler is also credited with the foundational role in introducing and popularizing the concept of business strategy.

In sociology, prior to Chandler's research, some sociologists assumed there were no differences between governmental, corporate, and nonprofit organizations. Chandler's work on corporations clearly demonstrated that there were differences, and this thesis has influenced organizational sociologists' work since the late 1970s.,_Jr.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Henri Fayol - Biography and Contribution

Date of Birth  29 July 1841

Henri Fayol was born in 1841 of a family of businessmen. At the age of 19, he graduated as a mining engineer. He got job as engineer in the Commentry groups of pits of the Commentry-Fourechambault Company in 1860. He remained with this company throughout his long and distinguished business career. He became its Managing Director and retired from the position in 1918.

His first address on administration was delivered on 23 June 1900.

He gave a second lecture on administration in 1908 in the Silver Jubilee Congress of the Societe de l'Industrie Minerale.

His famous work "Admininistration Industrielle et generale" was published in a bulletin in 1916.