chapter  Two
20 Pages

Parts in Relation to The Whole

WithCyril Wilkinson, Ernie Cave

Systems theory has been a very powerful movement in management thinking. A biochemist, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, has been regarded as the founder and he depicted organisations as biological systems regarding them as entities which relate to their environment, with components or subsystems which serve the purposes of the whole system. The concept of boundary is central to the idea of a system. Boundaries may be physical, temporal, human or cognitive. Systems have been presented on a continuum from closed to open. Relatively closed systems discourage interaction with the environment in that they set up boundaries which resist penetration. Public boarding schools as they existed at the latter part of the nineteenth century serving stable, deterministic social and political needs were towards the closed end of the spectrum. The school has considerable autonomy over the throughput processes in that it can largely determine the activities in which it engages in pursuit of the objectives.