abstracts

17.1 Michael G. Terpstra:
"The Illusion of Theoretical Purity"


Sociocybernetics is a field slowly emerging into its own. The challenge is to set the stage for critical analysis and theoretical advancement. Occasionally theorists appropriate selected segments of existing theories. These parts are then tailored to fit into a proposed theory. When this happens, the appropriated segments are no longer consistent with the original theory from which they were excised. Tinkering with a parent theory in this fashion has been termed creative misreadings (How, 1985). This paper begins to address the following questions: How closely does the model adhere to the letter of the theory? or How far can the model deviate from the theory?

Creative misreading might also uncover contradictory elements in the borrower's own work. According to How, creative misreadings distort the reality of ideas in a particular way for the specific purpose of furthering one's own project (How, 1985).
Changes occur through the perception of the difference between the theory one reads and any model deemed appropriate. In other words, the degree of integrity depends on the difference between the theory and the model developed for application. Recognizing the tendency to creatively misread is a step toward bridging the gap between theory and practical application.

Those who participate in the development of a new field of study have the opportunity to set guidelines and develop the definition for the field. Such freedom must be enjoyed with due caution; if unrecognized, creative misreadings can lead to confusion among theorists observing the fledgling discipline.

Reference: How, A. (1985) A Case of Creative Misreading: Habermas' Evaluation of Gadamer's Hermeneutics. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology. 16:2:132-144.

Proposed Revisions and expansion for the following brief:
* Illustration elaborated to include the "illness as relationship" as the result of using Luhmann's subject-free approach.
* Pursue the idea that there is a possibility that this illustration could eventually lead to creating another creative misreading when a different perspective enters the discussion.
* Present the question: Are creative misreadings part of the evolutionary process of theory building?


Michael G. Terpstra, 13291 S.E. Oatfield Road, Milwaukie, OR 97222-7000, USA. Email: mterp@earthlink.net



17.2 Norma Romm:
"Operating Responsibilities in Sociocybernetics"


This paper offers a suggestion regarding the responsible operation of sociocybernetics. It is suggested that to operate our responsibilities when we engage in sociocybernetic reasoning is to recognise that our ways of knowing are not to be separated from our handling of ethical issues concerning the impact of our knowledge in society. Our ways of knowing already themselves might have an impact on the way in which social issues are not only understood but also addressed. If we believe that our knowing is separable from the way in which it might impact in the social world, we run the risk of intruding in unreflected upon, and unaccounted for, ways in the social fabric. In order to be able better to account for our knowing we cannot rely on the notion that cybernetics offers a "detached" way of finding out about consequences of pursuing lines of action. We have to admit that the very ways in which we ourselves define (envisage) possible consequences already might have their own impact in the social world. Our definitions can operate as self-fulfilling prophecies insofar as people believe that these definitions indicate "necessary" consequences. Therefore, the paper explores the suggestion that to operate responsibilities in sociocybernetics means to be aware of the possible impact of our knowing in the social world, and to find ways of proceeding that are less intrusive on others' understandings about possible consequences of actions. A suggestion is made for concentrating on the "socio" aspect of sociocybernetics in order to create a responsible approach to the employment of cybernetics in society.

Key words: sociocybernetics, knowing, ethics, responsibility, accountability


Norma Romm, Center for Systems Studies, University of Hull, 63 Salmon Grove, Hull HU6 7TJ, United Kingdom. Email: N.R.Romm@mgt.hull.ac.uk



17.3 Philip Nicolopoulos:
"Radical Political Organisations and the Dynamics of Social Change in a Complex Environment"


A complex environment(COE), consisting of society itself plus natural and built environment, in the last analysis includes an expanded chain of interrelations and interactions among particular specialised elements and entities (actors, groups, structures and processes, etc). It can be approached in parallel by both standpoints, a static and a dynamic one. It includes states of equilibrium and non-equilibrium, while the changes which happen into that are associated with many and various levels of its structures (the multi-level approach to social changes).

The effective activity of a radical political organisation (RPO), i.e., an organisation which aims at the overthrow or the change of the established sociopolitical structures and institutions, is connected with a systematic attempt to find its own correct position, stance and tempo into the concrete situation of COE or more specifically into the dynamical process of its changes, which at first may occur independently of any activity or intervention of a RPO or any other political organisation.

Among RPO, the structural elements of the COE and its trends of change, a fluid and dialectical game with many fluctuations is developed.That game, to a point, corresponds to the more general dynamics that is developed between actors and structures. It is useful for a RPO in that process and as it is mapping out its tactics and strategies, to apply the systems and sociocybernetic approach without of course its identification with a static consideration about the body social.


Philippos Nicolopoulos, Ipsilandou 20-22, 10676 Athens, Greece. E-mail: fnicolop@fortezza.cc.ucr.gr



17.4 Elijah Sekgobela:
"Student Participation in the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) student support service"


This paper offers an indication of the way in which the ABET support service to students at the University of South Africa is organised. It is shown how attempts have been made to operate a style of organisation which allows for ownership and control by students and their tutors. The difficulties of doing so in the context of some levels of bureaucracy in the institution in which ABET is located, are explored. This manner of organising the student support service does not always fit easily with the rest of the higher education institution. There are interests in the institution that sometimes seem to go against the more participatory style of management which values self-autonomy and granting of ownership and control to those involved in the student support service. However, ways in which it has been possible to de-emphasise the power relations between the tutorial groups and the central institution are located. This paper shows how the negotiation of these social possibilities adds a distinct (social) dimension to the cybernetic approach to organisation. In addition to exploring the attempts to give ownership and control to students and their tutors, the responsibilities of those involved in making decisions about degrees of autonomy to be granted are explored in the paper. It is shown how arguments can be made for allowing control over the service to be confined to the more specialised and technical aspects involved with teaching and learning. However, even this control is something that has been defined in conjunction with many of those involved in the service. So responsibilities have been generated within the "social" operation of the system.


Elijah Sekgobela, Abet Institute, University of South Africa, P.O. Box 392, Pretoria 0003, South Africa.



17.5 Magoroh Maruyama:
"Use of Individual Heterogeneity in Multicultural Management"


The current fashion among international management consultants is to stereotype each foreign culture and give courses or advices as to "how to behave" in a specific country. But experienced international managers know that they can discover any desired individual type beneath the surface of homogeneity. Individual types are transcultural, i.e. any individual type found in a culture can be found in other cultures. This paper discusses how to discover hidden individual mindscape types in foreign cultures. The author devised some psychological tests for some aspects of mindscape types. But the most efficient methods for management purposes are behavior observation methods and semi-directed conversation methods. This paper discusses how to use these methods.

A person's mindscape manifests itself in all aspects of his/her life including social activities, spatial organization inside a room, aesthetic preferences, etc. For the latter method, it is important to ask why rather than what. Some may notice dominance of one color or one shape while some may notice harmony of different colors or shapes. Some may see opposition, but others may see mutual support, interpenetration or flow. Once the mindscapes of employees are identified, you have to combine different types for mutual benefit. H-type inidividuals want to be leaders. It is all too easy for the manager to let them run the group, which should be avoided. Each individual should be given opportunities to be combined in many different ways with other individuals. Then they eventually form informal networks for interactive inventions. Some individuals may feel obligated to stay in the same group, even if they would rather rotate. If a rotation is required, they feel free to rotate or go to other groups because there are hidden types under the surface homogeneity.


Magoroh Maruyama, Aomori Graduate School, Aomori Koritsu Daigaku, Goushizawa Yamazaki 153-4, Aomori City, 030-01 Japan.



17.6 Monica-Gina Durstberger:
"An ethnographic inquiry into ethnic diversity to study the impact of affirmative action measures on the organizational communication culture of a transportation company"


In this paper I explain how organizational ethnography can be effectively used by researchers to study ethnic diversity, and to identify the margins of freedom that members of majority and minority groups have in organizations. To understand the fundamental or ideological dimension and the practical or operational dimension of communication strategies of an organization using an affirmative action program, I took an interpretative and critical point of view, and I triangulated methods of data collection and data analysis. In the course of my research I developed a paradigmatic model of ethnic diversity and an esthetic model of organizational communication. Organizational literature and the transcripts of my conversations with organization members have been analyzed to discover the multiple layers of ethnic diversity. I studied external and internal communication, and existing relations between organizational documents (texts) and organizational discourse (conversations) in applying analogical reasoning and abduction. Finally, the impact of ethnic diversity on organizational communication culture is illustrated by my ethnographic description of one microculture of the transportation company studied.


Monica-Gina Durstberger, 7540 Rue Boyer, Montreal H2R 2R8, Quebec, Canada. Email: durstbem@ERE.UMontreal.CA




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