Halfway to infinity : systems theorizing for the practitioners

Eden, Colin and Graham, Robert (1983) Halfway to infinity : systems theorizing for the practitioners. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 34 (8). pp. 723-728. ISSN 0160-5682 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/2581706)

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Systems theory is seen as stressing the rational mind (what we think about) to the detriment of the transactional mind (which we use day-to-day). This stress can be harmful to practitioners who must work in practical, transactional worlds. Rather than attempting to be infinitely rational, we propose a position halfway to infinity-rational and transactional combined. Much of systems theory is pleasing to hear and difficult to contradict. Much of the theory is about design of systems, but it is in the often non-rational process of implementation that the real system emerges. Also the theory tells us about systems but not how to identify the `correct' system that our O.R. efforts are impacting. The theory also tells about complexity, but the tools presented for handling it do not seem related to the theory. The halfway position is to build a body of contingent theory from reflection on experience, using systems theory as a framework for thinking rather than a guide for action.