Critique to Beer's model (Flood, 1995)

Flood, Robert. L. & Jackson, Michael C. (1995) Creative Problem Solving -total systems Intervention. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester. New York.


a) It (VSD) emphasizes organizational structure and communication and control processes - the machine-like qualities of organization - but neglects qualities brought by the human actors who make up organizations. Thus it has little to say about the social processes that go on in organizations, about organizational culture and about politics and power struggle in enterprises…… The cybernetic approach offers a very rich exploration of the logic of the brain and organism metaphors as well as of the machine metaphor. The VSM does neglect culture and power ….

 b) It neglects the purposeful role of individual in organizations. The model is for being ‘tool’ rather than ‘social systems design’, and for encouraging ‘intrinsic control’ but not ‘intrinsic motivation’. It takes some predetermined goal as given. It then seeks to pursue this goal as efficiently and effectively as possible by delegating control over means to the parts of the organization.

 c) It is said that the cybernetic model emphasizes stability at the expense of change (but in the VSM, it does have the part System 3-4-5 seeks to balance the demand for stability against the demand for change).


 a) The cybernetic model is often accused of adherence to mechanical and biological analogies which are misplaced when applied to social contexts.

 b) The law of requisite Variety underlies the VSM. The VSM can be seen as a grand design for variety engineering organization. Yet, variety has been criticized as a poor measure to the measurement of social organizations.


 It is argued that the use of VSM is likely to lead to autocratic management within organiizations. … Beer has done a good job in showing that control and freedom are not necessarily antithetical and in providing the basis for democratic management in a demoratic context.


 It is difficult to apply in practice, particularly because of the resistance it is likely to provoke within an organization.

There are two major unresolved difficulities. First, that the purposeful role of human beins within a VSM has not been sufficiently well explored - but since VSM design does not dictate a management style, this is a task to be donbe rather than a task that cannot be done. Second is the critism that a neurocybernetic perspective is only one way of conceving any organization.


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