A subset of organizational theory is considered to be systems theory, which includes a series of variations such as von Bertalanffy (1956)’s General Systems Theory, Mulej’s Dialectical Systems Theory, Flood and Jackson (1995)’s Critical Systems Thinking, or Beer's (1984, 1985) Viable Systems Theory. Systems theory opposes reductionism and promotes holism. Rather than reducing an entity (e.g. the human body) to the properties of its parts or elements (e.g. organs or cells), systems theory focuses on the arrangement of and relations between the parts which connect them into a whole. It emphasises interdependences, interconnectedness and openness as opposed to independence, isolation and closeness. This enables the discovery of emergence, as new attributes of interacting entities that are generated by their analysis as a whole that would not become evident if the parts would be analysed independently. Systems theory acknowledges complexity as an attribute of reality and focuses on synergy and the combination analysis and synthesis. Systems theory considers organisations as systems with relative boundaries which make exchanges with the environment and must adapt to environmental changes in order to survive. They are open systems which interact directly with the environment through inputs and outputs.
- Definition - What is the Systems Theory? Integrating Performance