Organisations as Open Systems
1. Systems Theory has its roots in the biological sciences, but has
been adapted & adopted by a number of fields & authors.
2. Every system is delineated by a boundary which separates it from
3. In general, systems are classified as either “closed” or “open”.
Open systems have permeable boundaries, allowing for the
exchange of resources between the system and its environment.
4. The cell is the classic example of an open system. Organizations
are another example of an open system. However, they differ from
biological systems in that they have a goal and/or purpose.
5. All open systems are input-throughput(transform)-output
6. Systems contain specialized subsystems. These subsystems
are Interrelated and Interdependent and are coordinated to
achieve the system’s goal or purpose.
7. Steady State or Dynamic Homeostasis is the characteristic state
that open systems seek to achieve and maintain; a challenge in a
• Organizations are dynamically related to their environments.
(i.e. Inputs/Outputs, Purpose/Need, Contingent, etc.)
• Viable open systems can adapt to changing conditions within &
without. Sensing & communication subsystems are key.
• Adaptable organizations avoid Chaotic Change and Entropy.
• Organizations that continue to serve an environmental need,
• Because of the dynamic interrelatedness of subsystems, there is
No Single Solution to a given organizational problem.
• To change a system, one Considers The Entire System, not just
its component parts.