TITLES AND ABSTRACTS RECEIVED UP TILL MAY 11, 1999
PARTICIPANTS CRETE CONFERENCE, MAY 26-31, 1999
1. By emailing the authors, you can obtain an electronic copy of their full paper.
1. Heinrich Ahlemeyer: "Cybernetic Knowledge Management in Organizations"
Knowledge is a bridge between the past, the present and the future. Far-reaching decisions in organizations are often made without making use of knowledge which exists. Organizations deal with knowledge in a highly selective manner. Which kind of knowledge can be observed? Which kinds of knowledge are used and how? How is knowledge organizationally dealt with? Where is it generated, how is it used? What are the obstcales to knowledge management? What does knowledge management mean, conceptually, practically? And is there a particular systemic approach to knowledge management? This paper wants to check and explore the theoretical foundations of knowledge management in organizations. It proposes the hypothesis that the concept of the åintelligent organization¼ will continue to attract attention and significance. It might offer itself as a preferred field for theoretical and empirical knowledge work in sociocybernetics.
2. Frans Birrer: "From Natural Sustainability To Social Sustainability"
The history of environmental problems clearly shows the limitations of traditional cybernetics that second order cybernetics seeks to overcome. Rather than positioning oneself as an outside observer, the observer should be reflexively included in the system observed. The question, however, is how to put this intention to work.
For this purpose, I will use a framework I developed earlier, which is my own branch of what has been called "constructive realism". It conceives human inquiry as starting from problem-orientation, and guided by bootstrap rationality. Constructed past and present are the basis for a continuing process of problem solving and learning. Observation and analysis are understood as an element of the relation between the observer/analyst and her (social as well as natural) environment.
Sustainability, in this perspective, requires social sustainability, that is, social structures (leading to environmental friendly behaviour) that are themselves socially stable ("socially sustainable"). Structures include procedures (laws, regulations, participation, democracy, etc.), but also attitudes and values.
Analysis should not only address fixed (systemic) mechanisms, but also more ambiguous contexts like those of temptation and self-delusion. These reflexively touch upon the position of the second order cybernetician, for they include the possibility that research and expertise may come to function as an obstruction for productive participation and democracy, even in cases where ostensibly participation seems to take place.
3. Arne Collen: "Human Inquiry As A Social System: Problems Of Complexity And Emergence
In Research Methodology"
The interests and expectations of researchers in the social, behavioral, and human sciences are ever more ambitious today. The conditions and regulations to justify the use of people, resources, and money are more intricate. And the problem contexts in which research is done are more complex. The globalization of human activities and its consequences demand more trans-disciplinarity among the sciences. Consequently, a more comprehensive, pragmatic and systemic approach to research methodology in those sciences that place the human being at its center, as well as those sciences in which human beings are the key players, recipients and stakeholders, gains ever greater appeal to growing numbers of researchers.
This paper presents an approach, attitude, and way of thinking about human science research methodology, to be construed and defined in the broadest and most contemporary sense. Some key concepts and principles are enumerated that bear on the process of conceptualizing and conducting human-oriented inquiry, especially in light of emergent phenomena apparent in the collective efforts required to engage successfully in inquiry and the increasing complexities of managing inquiry. Trends are to be discussed in regard to methodolatry, combinations of compatible methods, construction of a systemic methodology, the praxiology of human inquiry, human inquiry as a system, and the trans-disciplinary research team.
4. Tessaleno Devezas: "Diffusion-Learning Subsystems Dynamics: A New Approach To
Explain Longwaves In Socioeconomic Development"
Although in the last years many papers and books vave been published on Long Waves in socioeconomic development (also called Kondratieff waves, or simply K-waves), very little work has been done trying to develop a "satisfactory model" to explain their unfolding and causality. By a "satisfactory model" it is meant not a collection of historical, economical or social data, but a natural law with a fractal aspect, that can be applied to any social system. Looking exclusively at causality some different approaches can be found in the literature, ranging from pure exogenous causality, for example, solar activity and/or astronomical configurations, to pure endogenous processes of biological or societal nature. Mallmann and Lemarchand recently published a very interesting mathematical/dynamical model that immediately attracted reactions from some authors. The following discussion of the ideas concerning this model centers on their concept of generations under its many different conceptual aspects (social, biological, epigenetic, etcä), and how these unfolding aspects can give to society its natural developmental rhythm, cyclical or not.
This is a very exciting and worthy discussion that will, in the near future, lead us to the long searched for and necessary definitive model, a natural law of societal evolution, within the scope of modern systems science theory. The model presented by Mallmann-Lemarchand lacks however conceptual integrity and exaggerates its potential in explaining any kind of recurrent processes observed in human society. In this work is presented an alternative approach not so intensively based on the concept of generations in its broad sense, but rather on the of the learning and diffusion dynamics of succeeding generations.
5 Felix Geyer: "Pockets Of Irrationality In An Increasingly Rational World: An Effort To Simplify Unmanageable Environmental Overcomplexity?"
Based on the Luhmannian premise of the difference between psychic systems, characterized by consciousness, and social systems characterized by communications, the transition is descrtibed from the "mediated society" (Lachs) to the "network society (Castells), caused by the increasingly rapid complexification of modern society.
On the level of psychic systems, i.e. the indivual's consciousness, the modern network society promotes new (non-Marxist and non-psychiatric) forms of powerlessness and meaninglessness, because:
1. Feedbacks from the environment are often not recognized as feedbacks to one's own actions anymore.
2. The veracity of information received becomes increasingly uncontrollable;
3. The average individual has not yet developed or used the relevant scanning or selection mechanisms needed in a high-complexity environment;
4. An ever smaller part of one's "inputs" is the result of one's previous actions
5. Presumably effective action has less and less often the desired effects, leading to political alienation.
On the level of social systems, i.e. the system of communications in the network society, this results in:
1. sub-optimal functioning and political apathy of present-day TV-democracies,
2. large-scale withdrawal upon primary groups and mediating institutions,
3. increase of irrationality because of increasing adherence to irrational belief systems,
4. Increase in internationally organized crime,
5. Isolated and dangerous national and subcultural islands of ideological and irrational fanaticism,
6. Unprovoked violence of chanceless youth.
The network society is only partially developed: in some areas more than others, in the economic and political sphere more than in the cultural one. As an example the present-day situation in Yugoslavia is discussed, as well as the chances for the emergence of worldwide minimum norms, both ecological and anti-genocide.
6a. Bernd Hornung: "Concepts Of Data And Information Exchange And Structural Coupling - Integrating Luhmann into Information Science "
While Europe is getting ready for the information age and the year 2000 with information highways and its new data protection law, which was to be implemented by all Member States until the end of 1998, most prominent social theorists like Niklas Luhmann try to do without information flows.
Luhmann's theory of society is based on communication and autopoiesis, persons being the environment of social, i.e. communication systems. From this result at least two, apparent or real, paradoxes in Luhmann's approach but also in the original theory of Maturana and Varela. These are (a) that the essence of social systems is communication although there is no flow of information, and (b) that social systems are closed, being autopoietic systems, although they are necessarily open as they are subject to evolution and hence involved in entropic and negentropic processes. Ways out of these paradoxes are the awkward concepts of structural coupling and interpenetration. The paper tries to show that Luhmann's concepts may be not quite as far from "conventional" information science as they seem to be. The argument for this is based (a) on the new concept of information as developed by Stonier, and (b) on hierarchization both of the empirical world, as outlined e.g. by Buckley, and of information itself as developed in the "seven layers model" used in technical information science with great success.
6b. Bernd Hornung: "Autopoiesis And Structural Coupling - Learning by Experience"
Autopoietic theory implies the paradox that autopoietic systems are informationally closed, i.e. there is no flux of information between such systems, but still there is communication by means of something called structural coupling. Disturbances received by structural coupling permit the autopoietic system to build up a view" of the "world" which is strictly its own.
The session proposed will try to demonstrate this kind of functioning of structural coupling and the connsequent building-up of systems specific cognitive systems by forming three groups, A, B, C. Each group represents a particular societal subsystem with goals to be achieved as well as possible. For this purpose it can take actions specific to its particular kind. The actions are communicated from A to B, B to C, and C to A. In this way (indirect) feedback is possible, but apart from that each group knows ownly about its own characteristics, not who the others are nor what are their goals.
A fourth group, which may be identical with the game leaders or not, could play the role of the external second order observer. After the game, the experience of the participants and the documentation, consisting in each round of the actions taken and a self-description of each group, are evaluated and discussed in plenary.
Group: 3-5 participants (ideally)
Time: 1 afternoon or evening, ca. 3-4 hours
Equipment: 1 notebook in each group would be useful but not required
Overhead-display and transparencies
7. Akira Ishikawa: "Knowledge Management, Autopoiesis And Apoptosis"
First of all, the background and necessity of knowledge management will be clarified from the viewpoint of the lack of physical, financial, and human reources, severer global competitions, unsuccessful outcome of Business Process Reengineering (BPR), and uniqueness and differentiation as the source of survival.
Secondly, the required composite of knowledge management will be explored in terms of three kinds of entities: A group of human resources, process or flow that can retrieve, associate, link, and reuse skill and knowledge, and the contents of stored knowledge, in the main, in the electronic space.
Thirdly, the core area of knowledge management, represented by the knowledge information on clients, strengthening competitiveness, including sales, quality, new products and services, and relationships to stakeholders, consisting of customers, vendors, government officials, stockholders, and creditors, will be elucidated along with practical applications, and the characteristics of knowledge management model with emphasis on the agility of plan-do-see flow, enrichment of knowledge warehouse and knowledge or conceptual database under the collaboration platform environment will be highlighted. In addition both analog and digital approaches in the knowledge management model will be discussed.
Lastly, but certainly not in the least, the role and functions of autopoiesis and apoptosis in enhancing knowledge management will be explored in various business domains and functions, including R & D, marketing, production, sales, and social responsibility. Desirable features of business functions in relation to autopoiesis and apoptosis will be envisaged.
8. Arne Kjellman: "The Subject-Oriented Approach To Science And The Role Of Human Consciousness".
The realist's postulate ã that there is one singular reality independent of the living observer is incompatible with the quantum physics and the conclusion of the modern cognitive sciences. This postulate is a vainly attempt to rescue the objectivity of science as shown by G–del's Incompleteness Theorem. This approach has led science astray hampered a sound understanding of human's cognitive adaptability and learning processes and the role of a worldly reality in this context.
By giving up the realist's postulate and making use of the imperative subject-oriented approach this paper will show that it is nevertheless possible to rescue the idea of a useful scientific objectivity and come out with a new understanding of reality and its role in the scientific discourse. This approach elevates phenomenalism as the only alternative of a consistent objective scientific epistemology.
9. Richard Lee: "Modernization - Globalization: Consequences of Theory in the Study of Long-term, Large-scale Social Change
Building on previous work, this paper discusses two approaches to long-term, large-scale social change, modernization theory and globalization, and the consequences of their theoretical underpinnings for the analysis of long-term, large-scale social change. Modernization theory recognized the importance of world inequalities in the context of the geopolitical conflicts of the post-1945 period. It was a diagnostic approach which had as its goal ascertaining the causes of underdevelopment and thereby specifying prescriptions for enhancing well-being in "backward" areas by moving "traditional" societies--most often equated with third-world countries--in the direction of "modern" societies--identified as industrial states. Methodologically, comparisons using cross-sectional data were premised on the assumption that the populations studied were situated at different points in the same continuous developmental process.
The globalization perspective focuses on the closing of the gap that was the object of modernization studies. Proponents of the globalization thesis assert that a qualitative change has taken place over the past three decades. Added weight is supposedly given to cultural factors and the rise of "multiculturalism" and "postmodernism" (although cultural factors were central variables in modernization studies); however, globalization has been centrally concerned with the decline of the control that states can exert over international capital operations. The implicit sense of impending social transformation is reflected in the contingent recognition of the contradiction between "global" concerns such as the environment and human rights on the one hand and the processes of capital accumulation embodied in supranational production and media enterprises on the other.
Systems theory lies in the background of both the modernization perspective and the globalization thesis. The difference in the two latter is in their approaches to historical development, that is their conception of the temporal unit of analysis, and the object that is changing, that is the spatial unit of analysis. This paper proposes an alternative conceptualization of that which is "developing" and draws on work in complexity studies to suggest ways of integrating dimensions of objectivity and axiology in social research.
10. Paul Maiteny: "åInner¼ And åOuter¼ Dimensions Of Sustainability: The Need To Integrate Human Psychology Into The Quest For Sustainable Development "
Sustainability policy and research neglects questions of human psychology, subjectivity and experience - the åinner¼ dimensions of individuals. Yet individuals¼ outward orientated behaviour is an expression of their yearning for psychological and emotional well-being as they attempt to satisfy it in various ways - eg. through material consumption, lifestyle, and other choices. The ecological and social impacts of these behaviours and choices are also, therefore, projections and inevitable consquences of the same psychological yearning.
Whilst the yearning for this åinner human sustainability¼ is psychologically rooted and subjectively experienced, the perceived, and available, means for satisfying it in any particular case are culturally (ie. inter-subjectively and collectively) constructed. Cultural beliefs, ideologies, myths, theories and so on are the åinner¼ dimensions of collectives. Individual and collective behavioural change is, therefore, dependent on changes in the ways in which individuals seek to satisfy their inner needs and the cultural frameworks they choose to live by.
The paper explains why policy, if it is to be effective in the long-term, must be attentive to inner psychological and cultural dimensions of human beings, frameworks and beliefs about how needs and wants will be satisfied and how the latter change as they are found to be wanting as ways of achieving individual well-being. Finally, it is proposed that a personal sense of connectedness and systemicity may be the experiential basis for taking responsibility for one¼s own role in achieving both inner psychological and outer socio-ecological sustainability.
Policy-making is itself a cultural activity that seeks to respond appropriately to changes in the external world within the constraints of powerful cultural (collective) and psychological (individual) values and priorities. Inner and outer sustainability are therefore mutually dependent. A systemic approach to sustainability requires consideration of both and how they interrelate.
The paper draws on three main theoretical perspectives: 1. Reed¼s Oscillation Theory, which describes the experiential dynamic through which human seek to achieve inner sustainability and development, and to express through their behaviour and activity in the outside world; 2. Wilber¼s framework describing the holonic nature of human systems; 3. Wilden¼s Dependent Hierarchy which describes contingent relationships between nature and cultural constructions of nature.
11. Chaime Marcuello: "The Increase Of Societal Complexity, Non-Profit Entities And Social Efficiency. A Sociocybernetic Approach To A Social Efficiency Concept And Its Measure".
This paper posits a theoretical framework to define and to justify an empirical research about social efficiency of non-profit entities in a societal complexity which is increasing. We take as a starting point the sociocybernetics approach without rejecting completely the methodological individualism. This means that social efficiency is an intersubjective concept and a time-dependent notion inside a social system, in which individuals are always acting and re-acting. What counts as social efficiency within a complex society is a consequence of a multiple and selective systemic process, but it is operated at all times by individuals or institutions. This approach has three parts: (i).a look at the process of self-definition of social efficiency from the social actors as creators of meaning; (ii).an analysis of their discourses as autopoietic conscience and normative reference; (iii). a proposal of indicators to measure their compliance in the non-profit entities of the case study. It has the potential of generating a theoretical reference -concept- along with a way of practical researching -measure-. So, this paper begins the task of outlining such potential approach as a research methodology in order to create a social theory.
Keywords: SOCIAL EFFICIENCY, NON-PROFIT ENTITIES...
12. Dario Menanteau: "Cybernetics And Social Development: Today's Questions For The Future" (contributed paper)
The present century will be remembered as a period of rapid changes and major events that impacted all areas of human activity. Ironically, among the top ranking events considered by international news experts to have transformed current history are world catastrophes such as the Second World War, the drop of atomic bombs over Japan, the Holocaust and other examples of ethnic and political genocide, and the increasing inequality between nations as well as between the rich and the poor in the majority of countries.
These significant events of the 20th century portray a somber reality about social development and quality of life in modern society. Although progress has been achieved in technology, economic growth, and communication, many expectations for social and cultural advances remain unmet. The proposed paper will formulate some questions about the relationship between cybernetics and social development. The following are some of the questions to be explored:
… What has been the presence and possible contributions of cybernetics in the discussion of ideas, models, and programs in international development?
… To what extent can cybernetics, being a tool to expand knowledge about the functioning and control of systems, also facilitate social development?
… What are some of the underlying principles and beliefs of cybernetics that may help the process and activities of development?
… If social development cannot be isolated from political and economic tensions, how does cybernetics approach social and political conflicts in national systems implementing social development programs?
… What lessons can be learned from the experience of a project utilizing cybernetics in Chile (1971-1973), when that Latin American country was undergoing rapid socio-political changes? Werner (1994) refers to this effort known as "Project Cybersyn" as a "unique application of the tools of cybernetics to democratic government" before the military dictatorship that ruled that nation for almost two decades.
13. Janneke van Mens-Verhulst, van, DIJKUM, C. van, KUIJK, E. van & LAM, N.: "The Self-Regulation Model And Rate Of Learning: Non-Linear Patterns In Dealing With Fatigue"
A computer simulation of people dealing with fatigue complaints has been developed to reflect the dynamics of health behaviour.
Empirical grounding was obtained from a representative three-week diary study, part of a nation-wide survey by the Netherlands Institute for Primary Health Care (NIVEL). The theoretical base is derived from the self-regulation model of Leventhal, Nerenz and Steele (1984) which assumes that representations and coping responses are repeatedly constructed and evaluated, and that the evaluation feeds back into the knowledge system. In other words, their model implies learning processes and a recursive system.
During the simulation building it emerged that the model should encompass a non-linear equation to express the insight that enduring complaints increase vulnerability while vulnerability increases the chance of complaints. Subsequent simulation experiments showed non-linear behaviour patterns of the system varying with the amount of time people need to evaluate their remedial actions. Quantitative variation in this "rate of learning" appeared to result in qualitatively different patterns of health-related actions. This paper will reflect upon the theoretical and empirical meanings of these findings.
14. Vessela Misheva: "Shame Culture And Civilization"
This paper endeavours to present autopoietic systems from an evolutionary perspective. For this purpose, it introduces a third type of system in addition to autopoietic and allopoietic systems, namely, poietic systems. These are systems with self-constructed internal boundaries whose external boundaries, however, are determined from without. An appropriate example of the conditions under which such types of system can emerge are ecological niches that have external boundaries determined by nature.
The theoretical construction of the evolution of the autopoietic system will be supported by an appropriate interpretation of historical material concerning the emergence of European civilization in Ancient Greece. The types of societies that anthropology has previously characterized as shame cultures, or Aface to face@ societies with shame-honour codes, will here be examined as poietic systems. Finally, a discussion of regressive systems development and its implications for the development of social and psychic systems is provided.
15. Philip Nicolopoulos: "Steering And Change In Sustainable Social Systems: Convergence Of The Anascopic Approach With The Katascopic One"
The steering in sustainable social system (SYSS) is a complicated process with many dimensions. On the one hand their decision -making processes should take into consideration the change dynamics -change in themselves and change in their environment- and on the other, they should take the appropriate measures in order to be balanced with their environment and the resources which are necessary for their survival in the future. In parallel the sustainability of a system, to some extent,is depended on the appropriate culture of the actors, who are included in that. The ecological Knowledge and awareness, as well as, the right stance and actions of people as individuals, are necessary prerequisites.
Thus, the self-steering of educated and aware individuals who can contribute to the sustainability should be included in the whole steering policy of SYSS.On the other hand the central planning should not be excluded for other Finally we can say that the performance of a SYSS is depends on its ability to coordinate with sucess many levels of reference(adaptation to change dynamics with adaptation to the claims for ecological equilibrium,central planning with self -steering, level of decision-making process with cognitive level, central mechanism of steering based on social prerequisites with culture and individual initiatives)These levels are not connected with a linear relationship, but they compose a complex network of interdependent elements. A SYSS should be a system with increased multi-level coordination ability (MLCA). Only based on that ability it can be proven sensible, creative, and ready for many alternatives.
16. Nicholas C. Paritsis: "The Balance Of Variety With Order: A Necessity For The Developing Sustainable Systems" (possibly contributed paper)
Ashby proved that in addition to the requisite variety is necessary for adaptation to an environment and for survival, namely order and not randomness of the connectivity is needed. Prigogine show that when the system develops there is an increase of order. Paritsis discussed that a gradual increase of environmental variety is needed to give the time to the system to adapt and that there is an optimal amount of variety that maximizes development. Entropy and the amount of information are related to variety and to disorder, and development is related to an increase of variety and of order. For a given variety there is an optimal order related to this variety. The good strategy in systems design is to balance an increase of variety with an increase of order. Otherwise, the result may be high entropy and possibly overload of information stress for the society. When there are problems of increased variety in the system or in the environment, related with high entropy or overload of information, then a solution can be fount in the increase of the order in the system. This increase of order can take the form of an increase of
Ö social cohesion, collaboration and peace,
Ö strictness and dominance of law,
Ö coherence between the official and the actual hierarchy and organization of the society,
Ö compatibility and harmony between the political decisions,
Ö the rules and the laws of the society,
Ö harmony and compatibility between possibly different cultures and between the system and its natural environment.
17. Bernard Scott: "Being Holistic About Global Issues: Needs And Meanings"
As sociocyberneticains we are perhaps agreed that the problems we face are global. We may also perhaps agree that our global problems need to be tackled holistically, addressing both the first -order complexity of interconnected observed systems and the second-order complexities of communities of observers. However, 'being holistic' lacks meaning if the implied theoretical ideal lacks a praxis. The question arises, "What is that praxis?" In systemic terms, actualising holism requires a 'nucleation', a centre around which the many facets and levels may cohere and coalesce as 'insight' and 'intuition'. Where is such a universal 'centre' to be found? I argue that it is precisely the perceived need for 'centring' that is the 'centre'. This position should be acceptable to 'postmodern sceptics', as it allows for an ethically based choice of ontology. It should also be acceptable to those who, by faith, believe in a 'beyond our understanding' eternity, in which 'goodness, truth and beauty' are one. Thus, as practitioner observers we may hope to move forward in unity of purpose whilst tolerant of our lack of uniformity with respect to 'foundational', 'transcendental', 'metaphysical' assumptions. The argument is developed with reference to some key sources in cybernetics (von Foerster, Pask, Bateson and Maturana).
18. Karl-Heinz Simon: "Are System Indicators To Assess Sustainability Efforts Of Societies Achievable? - Some Remarks On Social Systems And Their Involvement In Sustainability Discourse"
In recent years sociological systems theory has undergone important modifications and theoretical innovations. Especially the approaches of Luhmann and others of the ìBielefeld School" can be mentioned on this score. Closer connected to non-sociologist systems theory proposals have been developed how the assessment of (social) systems with respect to sustainability could look like. And with respect to sustainability discussion the general scheme of Stern et al. connects changes in the (global) environment to changes in social systems and tries to analyze causes and effects in feedback loops.
In our paper, we try to clarify some aspects of these developments related to the following questions:
What could provide a basis for assessing social systems especially in their contribution to sustainability? The status of social systems is to be discussed and a differentiation between constructivistic and realistic approaches is necessary. One important question is, in which sense social systems can be distinguished from their environments.
How could indicators look like which help to measure these contributions? Some proposals exist, but it can be shown that according to their view on social systems is at least questionable.
Does systems theory provide a proper basis for such indictors and measurement activities? Despite expectations that systems theory is helpful in the development of assessment schemes a lot of unsolved problems up to now hinders progress.
19. Fritz Wallner: "Constructive Realism And Sociocybernetics"
Some systems endure longer, are more stable, and are better able than others systems to restore after destruction. We can examine such stability in terms of two concepts - stability of simple system and stability of complex stability. The purpose of this paper is to use the conceptual frameworks of sociocybernetics and computer modeling to develop our understanding of social systems stability. So paper uses two hypothetical models:- (1) model of stability of simple system, (2) model of stability of complex system. This is gained by analysis of various dimensions of stability - resistance and elasticity.
I try to apply the computer modeling techniques to study the diverse spheres of stability. The proposed models describe two hypothetical groups and the processes of interaction between individuals. Using empirical data of evolution of gender structure in Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia, the paper examines the distinction between resistant stability (static and simple systems) and elastic stability (dynamic and complex systems). In addition, different couples of features were analyzed: high strain - low strain, mobilizing stability - autonomous stability, equilibrium - non-equilibrium, static- dynamic, close system - open system and etc.
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created: May 20,1999
updated: May 20, 1999