Organizational Cybernetics And Business Policy
System Design For Performance ControlBook - 1986
Successful control of performance in a complex business organization, this book argues, depends on whether "policy decision taken in the ordinary course of business" follow "guidelines of organizational cybernetics and systems theory." Empirical evidence for the book's position was manifested in General Motors' success in surpassing the performance of Ford, formerly the industry leader, in the period 1918-38. The designers of the GM system anticipated--by their actions--the work done by theorists since the 1940's. GM's recent problems, the book argues, are a result of the departure from the approach.
The book starts with a theoretical introduction to the system-design-for-performance-control (SDPC) model as applied to business organizations, defining its salient elements. From organizational cybernetics the model takes such "steermanship" concepts as essential variables, requisite variety, temporary decomposability, amplified control, and ultra-stability. From systems theory the model takes the major roles and settings in the SDPC scenario: clients, designers, and decision makers; system, environment, and components; performance measures and resources. The seven phases of the SDPC model are introduced in the light of work by various pioneer theorists.
In developing the seven phases of the SDPC model, with a chapter devoted to each, empirical evidence is taken chiefly from the automobile industry, with emphasis on General Motors and Ford--evidence presented more extensively in the author's GM Passes Ford, 1918-1938--but also incorporates comparative examples from other corporations and industries. Theoretical insights are drawn from the work of many noted analysts.
The two final chapters show, first, how generally any corporation's system design is related internally to departments and divisions and externally to the economy and society; second, how specially General Motors's and Ford's acceptance or rejection of sound system design has resulted in successful or unsuccessful performance. Focusing on the key automobile industry, and yet ranging widely in its sources of insights and examples, this book will stimulate creative thought in both students and practitioners of business management and policy-making.