Explain the importance of the systems approach to the study of organization.

The study of organization as fascinated researchers over centuries, various approaches have been adopted to analyze organizations. The term “system approach” has been defined as a complex whole, a set of combined things or parts.

According to this system approach in organizational analysis, an organization can be considered a social system to be studied in its totality In other words, a system is a collection of interrelated parts which receive inputs, act upon them in an organizational or planned manner and thereby produces certain outputs.  A system is characterized by three properties.

First, it is a set of interactions. Second these interrelated activities or elements have a bouncily set around them. The most important activity of a system is to maintain administrative order and equilibrium among various subsystems.

Thus it is an assembly of interdependent parts who interact among themselves. interdependent implies that a change in one part influences other parts, or effects the entire system. Individuals are viewed as the basic unit of organizational systems. All human organizations are the open system. It receives input in the form of human and material resources and giving out outputs in the form of products, services or rewards to its members as well as to the larger system.

Herbert Simon was the chief contributor of system approach to the study of organization. According to him organization as a total system, a composite of all the subsystems which serve to produce the desired output. His basic assumption is that the elements of organizational structure and function enamate from the characteristics of human problem-solving processes and rational choice. Therefore the organization is viewed as a system comprising individuals making choices and behaving on the basis of their reactions to their needs and environment.

The systems approach is particularly relevant to the study of large public organization operating in, larger social, political and economic environments. C. West Churchman draws attention to five basic considerations in relation to the systems approach to management:

  1. The systems environment acting as a constraint.
  2. The systems resources that are put to use in performance.
  3. The total objectives of the system and the measures of systems performance.
  4. The systems components and its goals and activities.
  5. The management of the system (the regulating and decision-making aspect).

The organization, according to many administrative thinkers as a socio-technical system comprising both the social and technical variables. It is not an assembly of building, money, machines and processes but an assembly of various individuals. The system consists in the organization of people around various technologies, whose motivation, behaviour and relationships determine both the quality and quantity of its inputs and outputs.

Now-a-days the system approach is more widely used in the organizational analysis because this approach can take into account more variables and inter-relationships while looking at an organizational problem in the framework of a larger system. Another important assumption of the systems approach is that there is a continuous mutual interaction between the system and its environment. The system approach also provides a useful framework for understanding how the elements of an organization interact among themselves with their environment.

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