Applied Systems Theory
As Reader in Industrial Management in the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow, Rob Dekkers is well positioned to survey the currents of the vibrant systems tradition in the United Kingdom. In his book, Applied Systems Theory, out in its second edition from Springer in 2017, Dekkers seeks to augment the valuable work done by Soft Systems Methodology in facilitating the engagement of multiple stakeholders, as well as the achievements of a host of other established cybernetic and systems approaches, with a set of modeling tools more formally rigorous than those previously on offer. By drawing our attention to such factors as the need to keep secondary processes and resources within the boundaries of system models, the importance of a balanced blend of feedback and feed-forward control mechanisms, and the potential for miscommunication between differently focused “aspect systems” contained within the same organization, Dekkers offers the next generation of systems practitioners new techniques for developing the kind of foresight necessary to manage complex human activity systems in an era where the margins for unintended consequences continue to shrink at a seemingly exponential rate. Dekkers combines a deep understanding of, and respect for, the work of previous generations of systemic thinkers with a keen sense of the gaps in systems practice still yet to be adequately filled; making this an ideal textbook for upper level undergraduate and graduate systems courses.