The Cybernetic Metaphor in Organisation Theory: Epistemological Implications
AbstractCybernetics is the metaphorical term that describes and characterises the
field of study which is concerned with the control and communication in
animal and machine. Broadly speaking, developments have occurred in two
directions, one of which builds upon early cybernetic insights which sought
to build machines upon the principles which characterise organisms, and
another which follows the epistemological implications deriving from the
cybernetic perspective. The former line of development has given rise to a
number of theories and techniques, which facilitate the achievement of
regulation and control in social affairs. The latter has given rise to a
cybernetic world view which has very fundamental implications for our
understanding of the manner in which ecological systems evolve. This paper
seeks to argue that whereas cybernetics as a technique for enhancing
regulation and control within organisations has already had an important
impact upon theorising, its epistemological implications have not been so
clearly appreciated. Systematically developed, these implications have
fundamental consequences for the way organisations and their mode of
operation are viewed.
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