“Once again it was a pleasure to be able to present and discuss topics related to the Newer System Theory with the students”, said Robert A. Sedlák – Guest Prof. at the ECNU in Shanghai.
Focus of the lecture was an introduction into Niklas Luhmann’s understanding of living systems, and the implementation of this model in organizations.
Content of Lecture: Organizations as Living Systems
There is a difference between understanding organizations as trivial machines, or as complex, meaningful – and therefore living – systems. The idea of identifying communication as the foundation of social systems, and recognizing decisions as the most important communicative events, has been received with great interest. Organizational blindness, the self-reference of living systems, complexity reduction, organizations as communication systems, and the main insights concerning organizational challenges have been taken up and discussed intensively.
Highlight of the lecture was an assessment of the question, how organizations can run into trouble without seeing the process leading up to it. Students were asked to think of organizations, which have been successful over long periods of time, before abruptly finding themselves in a crisis. This was followed by a very interesting analysis of the causes, which led to the respective problems, and a discussion as to why companies make such massive, existence threatening miscalculations.
The lecture took place in English and was translated simultaneously into Chinese by Yiqing Zhang, employee at S&P Consulting International Consulting. Due to the demanding content, this was highly appreciated by the students.
With an eye on the upcoming spring lecture in 2015, the winter lecture ended with an enthusiastic round of applause.
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