T h e o r i e s U s e d i n I S R e s e a r c h
G e n e r a l S y s t e m s T h e o r y
|Theory Name||General Systems Theory|
|Alternate name(s)||Systems theory, Open systems theory, Systemic theory|
|Main dependent construct(s)/factor(s)||Output|
|Main independent construct(s)/factor(s)||Input, throughput, feedback, control, environment, goals|
|Concise description of theory||Systems theory was proposed in the 1936 by the
biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy, and further developed by Ross Ashby. von
Bertalanffy was both reacting against reductionism and attempting to revive
the unity of science. He emphasized that real systems are open to, and
interact with, their environments, and that they can acquire qualitatively
new properties through emergence, resulting in continual evolution.
Rather than reducing an entity (e.g. the human body) to the properties of its parts or elements (e.g. organs or cells), systems theory focuses on the arrangement of and relations between the parts which connect them into a whole (cf. holism). This particular organization determines a system, which is independent of the concrete substance of the elements (e.g. particles, cells, transistors, people, etc).
Thus, the same concepts and principles of organization underlie the different disciplines (physics, biology, technology, sociology, etc.), providing a basis for their unification. Systems concepts include: system-environment boundary, input, output, process, state, hierarchy, goal-directedness, and information.
An information system is an example of the interaction of multiple elements as envisioned by GST.
|Diagram/schematic of theory||N/A|
|Originating author(s)||Ludwig von Bertalanffy|
|Seminal articles||Bertalanffy, L. von,
(1934).Untersuchungen über die Gesetzlichkeit des Wachstums. I. Allgemeine
Grundlagen der Theorie; mathematische und physiologische Gesetzlichkeiten
des Wachstums bei Wassertieren. Arch. Entwicklungsmech., 131:613-652.
Bertalanffy, Ludwig Von (1962). General system theory - A Critical Review. General Systems 7, 1-20.
Boulding, K. (1956). General Systems Theory – The Skeleton of the Science. Management Science, 2(3), 197-208.
Buckley, W. Sociology and Modem Systems Theory; Prentice-Hall, New York, NY, 1966.
Kast, F. E. and Rosenzweig, J. E. (1972) General systems theory: Applications for organizations and management, Academy of Management Journal, 15, 4, pp. 447-465.
Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1968). General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications New York: George Braziller
Simon, H. A. (1962) The architecture of complexity, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 106, pp. 467-482.
Gerald M. Weinberg (1975) An Introduction to General Systems Thinking (1975 ed., Wiley-Interscience) (2001 ed. Dorset House).
|Originating area||Philosophy, Mathematics, Cybernetics|
|Level of analysis||System|
|Links to WWW sites describing theory||
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory, Wikipedia entry on GST
http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/SYSTHEOR.html, Brief explanation of GST
http://www.n4bz.org/gst/gst1.htm, History of von Bertalanffy
http://www.survey-software-solutions.com/walonick/systems-theory.htm, Provides links from GST to other theories
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~econec/systems.html, List of GST references
In addition, AMCIS regularly includes a minitrack on The Philosophical Foundations of IS research. This minitrack calls for papers with a focus on GST.
|Links from this theory to other theories||Social network theory, Change theory, Chaos theory, Complexity theory, Contingency theory, Socio-technical theory, Soft Systems Theory, Work System Theory|
|IS articles that use the theory|| Alter, S. (2001). Are the
fundamental concepts of information systems mostly about work systems?
Communication of AIS, 5(11) 1-67.
Ackoff, Russell L., (1971). Towards a system of Systems concepts. Management Science, 17(11), 661-71.
Boulding, K. "General Systems Theory -The Skeleton of Science," Management Science, April 1956, pp. 197-208.
Chung, W. Y., Fisher, C. W. and Wang, R. Y. Redefining the Scope and Focus of Information Quality Work: A General Systems Theory Perspective. Advances in Management Information Systems. Advances in Management Information Systems June, 2005. M.E. Sharpe Inc., Armonk, NY
Churchman,C.W. The System Approach and Its Enemies,Basic Books, New York, NY, 1979.
Churchman, C.W., "Management Science: Science of Managing and Managing of Science," Interfaces, Jul/Aug 1994; Vol. 24,Iss. 4; pp. 99-110.
Edward J. Garrity, (2002) "Synthesizing User Centered and Designer Centered IS Development Approaches Using General Systems Theory", IS Frontiers, Vol. 3, No. 1.
Kendall, J.E. and Kendall, K.E. "Metaphors and Methodologies: Living Beyond the Systems Machine," MIS Quarterly, Vol. 17, No.2, 1993, pp. 37-47.
Ives, B., Hamilton, S. & Davis, G. (1980). A Framework for Research in Computer-Based Management Information Systems. Management Science, 26(9), 910-934.
Kling, R. and Scacchi, W. "The Web of Computing: Computer Technology as Social Organization," in Advances in Computers (21), Academic Press, New York, NY, 1982.
Lewis, P. J. (1994) Information Systems Development: Systems Thinking in the Field of Information Systems, (London: Pitman).
Lewis, P. J. (1995) 'New Directions in Data Analysis and Data Modelling', in Stowell, F. (ed.) Information Systems Provision: The Contribution of Soft Systems Methodology (McGraw-Hill), pp. 186-205.
Lewis, P. J. (1992) 'Rich Picture Building in the Soft Systems Methodology', European Journal of Information Systems, 1(5), xx, pp. 351-360.
Lewis, P. J. (1993) 'Linking Soft Systems Methodology with Data-Focused Information Systems Development', Journal of Information Systems, 3(3), xx, pp. 169-186. [*0]
Lewis, P. J. (1993) 'Identifying Cognitive Categories: The Basis for Interpretative Data Analysis Within Soft Systems Methodology', International Journal of Information Management, 13(5), xx, pp. 373-386
M.L. Markus, A. Majchrzak, L. Gasser, A design theory for systems that support emergent knowledge processes, MIS Quarterly 26 (3) (2002).
Mora, M., Gelman, O., Cervantes, F., Mejía, M., and Weitzenfeld, A. 2003. A systemic approach for the formalization of the information systems concept: why information systems are systems?. In Critical Reflections on information Systems: A Systemic Approach, J. J. Cano, Ed. Idea Group Publishing, Hershey, PA, 1-29.
Mora, M.; Gelman, O.; Forgionne, G.; Petkov, D.; Cano,
J. (2007). Integrating the Fragmented Pieces of IS research Paradigms and
McKeen, J.D., "Successful Development Strategies for Business Application Systems," MIS Quarterly, Volume 7, Number 3, September 1983, pp. 47-65.
Nolan, R. & Wetherbe J. (1980). Toward a comprehensive framework for MIS research. MIS Quarterly, June, 1, 1-20.Porra, J., "Colonial Systems," Information Systems Research, 10, 1 (March), 1999, pp. 38-69.
Sabherwal, Rajiv, Hirschheim, Rudy, and Goles, Tim, “The Dynamics of Alignment: A Punctuated Equilibrium Model” , Organization Science, Vol.12, No.2, 2001, pp. 179-197.
Silver, Mark S., Markus, M. Lynne, and Beath, Cynthia M., "The Information Technology Interaction Model: A Foundation for the MBA Core Course," Management Information Systems Quarterly, volume 19, no. 3, September 1995, pp. 361-390.
Wand, Y., Storey, V. C. and Weber, R. (1999) An ontological analysis of the relationship construct in conceptual modeling, ACM Transactions on Database Systems, 24, 4, pp. 494-528.
|Date last updated||October 18, 2005|
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